Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
Pesto is a basil sauce that originated in the
city of Genova in the Liguria region of northwest Italy. Pesto in Italian is
derived from a word meaning to pound or crush. Italian purists insist that pesto can only be made using locally-grown Genoese basil, a
small-leafed variety with a delicate taste, and that it must be made using a
pestle and mortar. It is still considered to be the best way of preparing pesto
at home although today very few persons do actually follow this process.
As I don't seem to have the time and energy to make pesto the old-fashion way, I use my food processor as it
is quicker and tastes wonderful! And the good news is that pesto is very easy to make if you own a food processor or blender, it will take only a few minutes!
During the summer months, when I always seem to
have an abundance of basil in my garden, I always make this delicious basil pesto. This basil pesto will taste great with your pasta, on bread, pizza, toast, baked potatoes, etc.
It uses are endless!
Pesto - Italian Basil Pesto - Pesto alla Genovese
Prep time: 20 min
Pesto will taste best if you make it the day before as this allows the flavors to blend. That will
also take the ‘edge’ off the garlic
flavor. I usually make my pesto without exactly measuring the
ingredients, but for the recipe below, I kept track of what I was doing for
giving more exact proportions. There are no strict rule for making pesto
- just do what you like best!
3 tightly-packed cups fresh
basil leaves (approximately 3 ounces)*
2 to 3 cloves
garlic, peeled and minced
pine nuts, toasted**
1/2 teaspoon coarse
salt or sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh-squeezed
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin
1/3 cup grated
Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano)****
* Use the younger and smaller basil leaves for best flavor.
** Toast the pine nuts in a small heavy pot or frying pan over low heat, stirring frequently until
golden, approximately 4 to 5 minutes (watch carefully as the pine nuts can
burn easily). I always toast more pine nuts that I need in this recipe and
then freeze the extra ones for later batches of pesto.
***The fresh lemon juice helps to keep the green color in the pesto.
**** Do not compromise on this ingredient and make sure is good-quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Wash the basil leaves in cold water, discard the stems, and dry thoroughly on paper towels (don't rub them).
Also peel off any thick spines from any larger basil leaves. I use my salad spinner for washing and drying the basil leaves.
In a blender or food processor, add garlic, toasted pine nuts, and salt; process for approximately 15 seconds.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture from the sides of the bowl. Add basil leaves, lemon juice, and olive oil,
using the pulse technique, turning on and off, to shred the basil. A single batch works well in a blender, but use a
food processor for larger batches.
Blend in the cheese. Now taste and see if you’d like to add some more of any of the ingredients to your liking. For example if you’d like your pesto to
be thinner, add some extra virgin olive oil.
Makes 2 cups pesto.
In these photos, I am preparing a double batch of Basil Pesto. I'll probably double that amount in the next batch I make. A double
batch of pesto filled one (1) ice cube tray for freezing.
The pesto will keep for up to 4
to 6 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator. Pour a thin film of olive oil on top of the pesto
to prevent discoloration. For longer storage, do not add the Parmesan cheese until ready
to use. Below are some ideas on how to freeze pesto.
Press plastic wrap against the surface of
the pesto to minimize any exposure to air and subsequent browning.
Refrigerate, tightly covered, for up to two weeks. Before using, leave at
room temperature for about 15 minutes.
Spoon the pesto into a foil-lined custard
cup; cover tightly with foil and freeze. Once frozen, remove the foil-wrapped packet and
store in a freezer bag for up to 2 to 3 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight,
or remove from the foil and thaw quickly in the microwave. Add Parmesan cheese just before
To freeze in ice cube trays, line an ice cube tray with
plastic wrap and fill with the pesto. Cover with another layer of plastic
wrap and freeze. When the pesto is frozen solid, transfer to a freezer bag.
Ideas For Pesto Uses:
Great with pasta, on bread, pizza, toast, baked potatoes, etc.
Rub under the skin of a whole chicken before roasting