Favourite Pesto recipe ?

Things you need to know - I’m not a great cook but I can do pasta (it’s a start ok?). Now if my pesto comes out of a jar I’m usuallly happy enough but last weeek we were in Italy (Venice not Genoa BTW) and the look on Ponster’s face as he ate his first mouthful of (my) spaghetti and pesto genovese was matched for joy only by the look on his face as he ate his second and third mouthfuls, you get the picture.

So I’m after an honest to goodness pesto recipe I can try out since I have a bit of time on my hands and am willing to experiment for once. (In my case the ‘experiment’ will be actually following a recipe without substituting missing ingredients with random things lying around in the kitchen!)

I did ask the waitress at the time and, although surprised, she blithely rolled off the ingredients. No proportions or instructions though which is why I’ve turned to you - please note that there was* no * rocket/rucola in their particular version so even if your pesto is certified the best in the world and it contains rocket I don’t think I’m going to try it just yet, sorry.
PS If you’ve never tried, consider pesto as a pizza topping, had this in Turin once … scrummy !!

Can’t remember the last time I used a recipe, but the nice thing about pesto is that you can always readjust the proportions as you go along.

Take pile of basil, put in food processor with a couple peeled cloves of garlic, a handful of pine nuts, and a couple dashes of salt. Add a couple glugs of olive oil. Pulse in food processor until mixture becomes a chunky paste. Adjust proportions, tasting until you’ve got something you like, both taste- and texture-wise (I like mine on the garlicky/chunky side.) See? No rocket!

(You can do the same with walnuts and cilantro instead of pine nuts and basil; it’s also tasty, but not at all the same thing.)

I like your style !

(In fact I’ve always thought your username was pretty cool too - and now I have the chance to tell you.)

The Wikipedia article on pesto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesto) says, "Today, basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and equal parts Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese are the main conventional ingredients. Your version contains no cheese. Which way is more authentic? More importantly, which version of pesto tastes better – with cheese, or without? Any opinions?

PestopestopestoFOOOOD! (sorry, haven’t eaten yet today)

This is my aunt’s pesto (she’s Italian. See! Kitchen cred!) and it’s much like Eva Luna’s.

  • basil and parsley (supposed to have more basil, but mine is about 2 parts parsley to 1 basil)
  • parmesan
  • pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • plenty of garlic
    Blend it all in the food processor.

The only thing Iwould add to this is some good fresh grated parmesan cheese. I can’t imagine pesto without it.

I put the cheese on the pasta when I eat it. Pesto keeps better that way, I find (especially in the freezer). There’s nothing quite like pulling a jar of homemade pesto out of the freezer in the middle of a snowy February night - it’s like eating summer.

The Wikipedia recipe looks similar to the Silver Palate recipe, and that’s the one I use. Sometimes use walnuts, sometimes use pine nuts–always use parmesan and romano. Still have some in the freezer, it will probably just about last me until I get the basil going in the garden.
And yeah, pesto is great on pizza. I slather it (or cilantro pesto) on bbq’d fish filets, rotisserie chicken, all kinds of stuff.

This is all great - I’ll get mashing Monday morning.

Of course, cheese ! - probably it was Grana Padana up in that part of the world - but it may be what made the difference. I’ll ease in with pasta then try Caprese 's chicken. (With a username like that I trust her on Italian cuisine.)

Grazie mille!

You should join http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Good_Eats/ and become intimately familiar with http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com. You will find kindred spirits and excellent answers there.

Most books (e.g. James Peterson’s Sauces ) credit the sauce as containing cheese.

Larousse Gastronomique defines pesto as "a cold Italian sauce from Genoa made from large quantities of basil ground with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil to make a bright green aromatic, and full flavored sauce.

The Genovese version is generally the one that comes to mind when thinking of pesto but Larousse’s goes on to say that "many variations have been created from this classic sauce using different herbs and ingredients, such as sun-dried tomatoes.

Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast states that pesto is probably of Persian origin but the Genovese Pesto had its direct roots from Roman times, as they were known to have made pounded condiments.

Suffice it to say that while the classic Genovese Pesto does traditionally include the use of cheese (most likely Parmesan by dint of geographic proximity), pesto can contain a multitude of ingredients and I’m sure everybody has their favorite recipe.

A simple, basil-free pesto variant that is mighty good:

1 roasted orange or yellow bell pepper
3 roasted garlic cloves
1 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup walnuts
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste

Blend in a food processor. Yummy all by itself, as a stuffing for mushrooms, or on pasta.

The real trick I’ve found when working with pesto is to mix it with either a white sauce (bechemel*) or an alredo sauce. If I’m using the bechemel I tend to load it up with what ever cheese are around. This makes an amazingly creamy sauce that sticks to each and every noodle, and makes the pesto go farther.

Bechemel sause: thicken milk with a roux*

**roux: melt butter, work in equal amounts of flour, cook slowly without browning.

A handy tip for freezing pesto: freeze it in ice-cube trays, and then pop the cubes of frozen pesto out and store them in plastic bags. That way, you can thaw out just as much as you need for a meal. And homemade pesto from your garden’s basil, eaten in February, is indeed like a change in the seasons.

We usually use toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts: the walnuts have a more assertive flavor, IMO, and the roastyness contrasts well with the other ingredients. We don’t mix it with anything when we serve it over pasta: the pesto itself is divine.


Any nut you like
Any herb you like
Cheese of your choice
Garlic to taste

Honestly make up your own. I serve this at BBQs with chicken, just blend it all:

macadamia nuts
some mango or papaya
basil and/or mint
flat-leaf parsley
chopped chili
a nutty oil - peanut or sesame or macadamia l
lime juice

OK - I thought I was fairly well-versed in cooking terms, but I am lost here. What is this “rocket” of which you speak?

Actually (whisper this confession) I hardly ever cook with ‘raw’ pesto as it were. OK let’s be honest although I’ve eaten plenty until now I’ve only ever used it myself in the following way - mixed with some crème fraiche and served with gnocchi. A true winter warmer which is why, unlike a lot of you I’d actually associated pesto with winter rather than summer.

Now, armed with your ideas, I feel this year could be the ‘Summer of Pesto’ for us.

I’ve had walnut pesto before - I guess it’s just a question of adding more oil to keep it from being too paste like right?

Good tips about freezng too.

Wow, thank you again.

‘Rocket’ is a bitter tasting leaf used in salads and stuff, real name Eruca Sativa, it became really popular in Europe a few years back. The Italian name is ‘rucola’ and the French ‘roquette’ if that helps any ?

Here. Looks a bit like Dandelion I know but it’s not.

Same thing as arugula lettuce. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arugula