Classic Basil Pesto

July 1, 2015

Classic Basil Pesto




I'm a real snob when it comes to pesto — only fresh homemade, thank you very much and a strict no to anything coming from a jar.
Oddly enough, I haven’t posted my recipe for Classic Basil Pesto on TIY yet.
I wonder why.
I made Kale Pesto, Avocado Pesto, Avocado-Spinach Pesto, Radicchio Pesto but not Basil Pesto.
Weird things happen on this blog.




Pesto is a simple perfection, a combination of flavors that just can’t be beat.
When I make the first batch of pesto, I know that summer has begun.
It’s not the heat, the humidity, the smelly subway stations, or that I am constantly under attack by mosquitoes. No, it’s the intoxicating smell of freshly-made pesto that marks the beginning of summer for me.
I like to buy basil in bulk and I make pesto at least twice a week. I am not kidding.
There’s always a jar of fresh pesto in my fridge.
You don’t believe me, come see it for yourself!






The preparation of pesto is stepped in years of Italian tradition. It must be pounded with a marble pestle in a marble mortar.
As I don’t own a marble mortar and pestle, I use my food processor. Less traditional, but works like a charm.
This recipe was given to me like 10 years ago by the chef of a famous Italian restaurant in TriBeCa. It’s the best of the best. Trust me.
One of the secrets is adding a couple of tablespoons of hot water to ease the blending and to get that fantastic smooth and creamy consistency.
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a whole lot of difference.





So without further ado, here’s my recipe for homemade basil pesto. Classic, simple, flavorful, and oh-so-delicious! 

Classic Basil Pesto                                                                                                       Print this recipe!

Note. Pesto will darken and brown quickly, but will still be tasty and fresh for several days. For best appearance, use it right away. If storing, store it in the smallest container possible and thoroughly press the pesto to eliminate air pockets. Pour a little olive oil over the surface, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.

Ingredients

Makes about 1 cup

4 cups / 3.5 oz / 100 gr basil leaves, washed and patted dry
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 heaping tablespoons pine nuts (or blanched almonds)
¾ cup / 5 oz / 140 gr grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup / 2 oz / 60 gr grated Pecorino cheese
1 large pinch coarse sea salt
Hot water
4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

In a blender or food processor (or if you have it a mortar and pestle) add garlic and pulse until creamed.
Add half of the basil and coarse sea salt, blend until finely chopped.
Add pine nuts, Pecorino cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Blend continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped.
Stop the blender, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the rest of the basil along with the one tablespoon of hot water.
Blend until a uniform paste has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until the pesto reaches a creamy consistency.
With the blender running, stream in the olive oil and continue blending until the olive oil is emulsified into the pesto and the sauce looks uniform.

Nutrition facts

One tablespoon yields 58 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein

27 comments:

  1. I love, love, love pesto!
    YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't believe you have never posted a pesto recipe either, but I'm glad you did as I love the hot water addition trick. Using that one next time for sure. I also pour a little olive oil over the surface like you mentioned, makes a big difference to seal in that freshness - that is if it last that long! Have a good one #WolfpackPestologist

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pesto has to be one of my favorite ways to add flavor to a dish. Great tip on freezing the pesto - it kills me when my pesto no longer looks bright green and fresh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love pesto so much, I could probably eat it with cake too ;)

      Delete
  4. This looks delicious and I love the bright color! I am a big fan of the olive oil trick when it comes to freezing, it really seals in the flavor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, the olive oil makes a whole lot of difference!

      Delete
  5. Ha-ha, the same things often happen to me. I can make and post quite unusual combos and then find out I haven't got a basic recipe yet (I remember having this issue with hummus, tiramisu, lemonades, and few other things). And, Mike, it's totally OK to be a snob. When it comes to pesto. Nice work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I say let's found a club of pesto snobs. Sounds like a plan?

      Delete
  6. I love regular pesto. It's just so versatile! There really is nothing better than just a plain ole' basil pesto! Great recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I second that Ken, plain ol' basil pesto is rad

      Delete
  7. I echo your comment that strange things do happen on this blog, Mike. But they are strange awesome things! Like this pesto. Summer = pesto in all the best possible ways. We love keeping pesto frozen for quick and easy weeknight meals when we don't know what else to make. Thanks for sharing this chef-approved version...it looks delicious! #WolfpackBasilFactory

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you and I should start a pesto business. You would call it
      "Paw Pesto | Made by the mighty wolfs since 2015" How's that sound" :D

      Delete
  8. Will definitely try your method on my next batch - I actually like to add hot water to hummus, find that it gives a fantastic texture....

    why not basil? I am sold!

    :-)

    Hope you are headed to a great 4th of July weekend, Mike!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll see it for yourself Sally, the texture is going to be awesome.
      Hoping you're going to have a great 4th of July too!

      Delete
  9. I too am a pesto snob I guess because only homemade will do. It's so easy as well, so why not. thanks for sharing your classic recipe and I am of course intrigued by all of your other versions! gigi. www.gigikkitchen.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I LOVE pesto. I'll gladly have a bowl of pasta with way too much of it covering each noodle. Never knew about the hot water tip. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hot water makes all of the difference. Believe me, it really does! :)

      Delete
  11. This looks awesome Mike, I love pesto, though I do struggle at times with how to use it. Last night, I mixed it in with some quinoa, which tasted great. What do you use it for? Have a great holiday buddy! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for sharing that tip about adding hot water - and the tipto pour olive oil on top to store it, I've always froen my leftovers but, next time, I gotta try your olive oil trick. BTW - this pesto looks incredible

    ReplyDelete
  13. I always keep fresh basil in my kitchen window, so I should really try and make this :-D Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. If I was wanting a thicker pesto without adding any form of cream could I just add less water or olive oil or would that ruin the recipe?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for sharing the recipe,

    ReplyDelete
  16. Adding a little fresh lemon juice to replace some of the oil will keep the basil from oxidizing and adds a nice fresh note.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Adding a little lemon juice to replace some of the oil prevents the basil from oxidizing and adds a nice fresh note to the pesto.

    ReplyDelete