Pesto (September 2006)
(Reran September 2013)
- 1/2 c pine nuts
- 4 (or 6) cloves garlic
- 1/2 pound grated parmesan
- 1/4 pound grated romano
- 3-4 c fresh basil
- 1 1/2 - 2 c cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
Using a blender or a food processor, grind up 1/2 cup of pine nuts.
Peel 4 cloves
of garlic, cut them into quarters and add them to the pine nuts. (Make sure the garlic isn't sprouting. If it is, its taste will be weak and bitter, which may seem a contradiction.
Don't use it. Or if you have to because the store is closed or it's too late to run out and buy some more, remove the green sprout from the center and add two more cloves.) Mix
the garlic into the pine nuts.
Add 1/2 pound of grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 pound of grated romano cheese. (Some people prefer the 3-cheese blend that is
available in most supermarkets, but I find the asiago tends to blunt the flavor of the basil.)
Wash 3 to 4 cups of fresh basil, leaves only. From the garden is
best, because freshness is very important. Just shake any excess water off; you don't need to dry it -- a few drops of water will get lost in the mixture.
With the blender/food processor running, slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. The better the olive oil, the better the pesto.
you find the pesto is still too thick, add up to 1/2 cup more olive oil little by little. You want the pesto to be smooth but not too loose. After all, it should cling to the pasta, not
run off and puddle on your plate.
Add freshly ground pepper to taste. (The equivalent of about 1/2 tsp is a safe amount; more might overpower the basil
I don't add salt to my pesto because I feel the parmesan is salty enough, and many people nowadays are on salt-restricted diets. Besides, as I
always say, it's easier to add it at the end than try to take it out. So taste it and if you find it's lacking in saltiness, then add some and give the pesto another spin or
Serve immediately over hot pasta, while the freshness of the basil is at its best.
And try to convince your guests not to
add any more parmesan on top; there's enough in the pesto itself and that would destroy the balance.
Important: You can keep pesto in the refrigerator overnight, or two days maximum.
BUT... I've never found a good way to reheat pesto. Microwaving it will turn it into one cheesy wad of chewing gum. Trust me; I've done it... and thrown it out. Heating it, even
lightly, on the stove or in the oven tends to make the olive oil separate from the rest. So if you made too much (if such a thing as too much pesto is possible!), I suggest taking it out
of the refrigerator well in advance and letting it warm to room temperature. The steaming hot pasta will warm it to perfection.
You can also freeze pesto, but
if you do, remember to let it return to room temperature in its own good time.