Pesto changes everything. It’s amazing with pasta, vegetables, poultry, seafood, pork or great as a spread for a sandwich. Whatever your preference, it’s a great recipe to know. Now is my favorite time of year to make and eat pesto. Basil is beautiful and abundant in the summer months, so I like to make as much pesto as possible and freeze it in small quantities. Then when winter comes along, I’m able to pull a portion out of the freezer and a have little taste of summer.
I also love the versatility of pesto. A traditional Italian recipe is made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil. By simply changing a few of the ingredients, you can jump around the globe.
For example, use equal parts basil, cilantro and mint (or thai basil), exchange the pine nuts for peanuts and add a touch of sambal for an Asian flair which goes well with shrimp. Use hazelnuts instead of pine nuts, serve with roasted chicken for a taste of France; or sub pecans for pine nuts to take you down South with a grilled pork chop and potato salad. I chose to make The Chopping Block's traditional recipe here, which I plan on serving with some grilled vegetables.
Yield: 3/4 cup
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 10 minutes
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons romano cheese, grated
2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Turn on a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Drop in garlic cloves through top opening and process until finely minced.
- Turn off the processor, add pine nuts and cheeses and process until finely minced.
- Add the basil, and while the food processor is running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate until use, up to 4 days, or freeze up to 3 months.
I prefer to mince that garlic by hand and add after step 3. This helps tone down the pungency of the garlic.
First, I used the food processor to ‘grate’ my cheese (I used all romano).
Then, I added the pine nuts.
Next, I added the basil.
After the basil was blended, I slowly added the olive oil.
Once the oil was incorporated, I added in my minced garlic.
The hardest part is narrowing down the list of things I’d like to eat with the pesto.
If you’d like to do a live test run of making pesto, sign up for our Pasta Workshop class this summer.
Making pesto is a breeze in the food processor. Learn the difference between that machine and your blender and immersion blender and how you should use all three in our free guide Food Processor vs. Blender vs. Immersion Blender.