Pesto! Who doesn’t love Pesto? A simple dish that originated from Genoa, Italy where originally a paste was made from crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together.
This technique was called moretum which was more of a spread than a sauce like traditional pesto is seen today. The ancient Romans would eat this spread traditionally on bread and it was actually made in a mortar and pestle, hence the name!
In Liguria Italy (a city in Genoa) basil was a very common herb, so using it was a no brainer. There is where they added the addition of crushed pine nuts and a touch of olive oil to make more of a sauce as opposed to a spread.
In Provence, France they add fresh parsley and take out the pine nuts. This variation, is called Pistou. What’s great about pesto is all the variations there are and what you can as you make it. You can add parsley or mint to really liven up the flavors, but today we are focusing on just simple and classy pesto.
The trick to keeping pesto green and not oxidizing, is blanching the herbs that you put in. So if you want to add parsley or mint, add them to the blanching process of Step 2.
- 2 Cups Basil Leaves (packed)
- 1 Cup Pine Nuts (toasted)
- 6 Teaspoons Garlic (minced)
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Cups Grated Parmesan
Prepare a bowl of ice water, set aside.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. When the water is boiling add a liberal amount of salt.
Using a fine mesh sieve, put the basil into the sieve in two batches. Lower the first batch into the boiling water and let them blanch evenly for 15 seconds. Plunge the basil into the ice water, repeat with the second batch.
Drain the basil immediately, and squeeze the excess water out of the leaves. Pat dry with a paper towel.
Roughly chop the basil and place in a food processor. Next, add the pine nuts, garlic, salt, and cheese. Pulse until blended together.
If you can buy this cheese, it’s really the best. It’s so smooth and velvety, perfect for giving your pesto a creamy and silky texture.
Before adding the oil, remember to scrape down the sides. With the food processor on, slowly add the olive oil and allow to come together.
Can serve over your favorite vegetables, pasta, chicken, or as a dip.
Pesto is best served at room temperature and if served with pasta, toss the pasta and pesto immediately. No need to heat the pesto separately.