Once you make your own pesto at home, you will never again buy pesto in a jar, bottle, or tube. I guarantee it. Making pesto is so unbelievably simple- see the photo above? That’s all you need to start making pesto. Really.
Like most simple recipes, of course, it matters that you use the best ingredients possible. In the case of pesto, this means fresh, bright green basil, young garlic, good extra virgin olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and the freshest pine nuts you can buy.
Pine nuts, by the way, go rancid horrifyingly fast- so you probably don’t want to use that bag you’ve had in your pantry for a year. Get fresh, well-packed pine nuts. And if you can’t, use walnuts. Or pecans.
On to the pesto making: I like to use a mortar and pestle mostly (after all, pestle and pesto are derived from the same word, “pesta”, which means “to pound”) but have been known to pull out the trusty food processor- especially when there’s company for dinner and/or we’re making a lot of pesto.
Finally, here is my no-fail, you’ll-never-use-store-bought-again pesto recipe. Mix it with pasta, serve as a dip… you know what to do with it.
3 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (or, use regular Parmesan or Romano)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Start by pounding the basil leaves and pine nuts together. Add (in this order) the garlic, olive oil, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Either buzz this all in the food processor, or grind in your mortar with pestle.
And that’s it! This pesto keeps beautifully in the fridge.