Aside from a jar of some good chunky peanut butter, pesto is probably my second biggest vice in the kitchen. I will admittedly take it on with just a spoon in hand. From pastas and pizzas, to sandwiches and eggs, there really is no wrong way to use a pesto! It is a such a resourceful recipe to know off-hand because it is quick, inexpensive and can be used in so many different ways. Once you understand the basic idea as to how pesto comes together, you can begin experimenting with different nuts, cheeses, vegetables and herbs. One of my personal favorites is a spicy red pepper pesto, but that's a post for another day. The recipe that I am sharing today is my grandmother's recipe that I grew up enjoying. The addition of the lemon
First, a quick lesson on pesto for you. The sauce's name comes from the verb pestare, which means 'to pound'. The pounding refers to the traditional Genovese preparation of the dish, which is done with a mortar and pestle. Nowadays, many use a food processor to prepare pesto, as it is not only faster, but more people tend to have one on hand. Either method you choose will deliver a delicious end result. However, being a 20-something trying to survive in Manhattan, I do not have a mortar and pestle taking up prime real estate in one of my kitchen cabinets. Thus, I am going to be using a food processor for this recipe (sorry nana).
The Break Down:
(Serving Size: 4 servings of pasta)
- Fresh Basil Leaves - 2 cups
- Pine nuts - 1/4 cup
- Pecorino Romano - 1/4 cup
- Lemon - Juice of 1/2
- Garlic - 1 clove, crushed
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Sea Salt - 1/2 tsp.
- In a skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until golden brown (3 mins)
- Add toasted pine nuts, basil, crushed garlic and lemon juice to food processor
- Give processor a few single, quick pulses (3 to 5) to begin breaking up the dry ingredients
- Slowly pour in 3/4 of the olive oil set aside through top of the processor as you continue to blend
- Remove mixture into bowl and add Pecorino Romano and sea salt, along with remaining olive oil
- Mix with utensil and serve!
Tips & Tricks:
The better the oil, the better the pesto! Be sure to use a good, Extra Virgin Olive Oil for this recipe
Some people find the taste of basil to be too sweet. If that be the case for you, substitute 1 cup for 1 cup of parsley for this recipe (1 cup basil, 1 cup parsley)
Pine nuts can be pricey and hard to find. Almonds and pistachios also add some great complexity to the taste