I think all of us have been tempted to buy the pesto sauce in the refrigerated sauce section at the supermarket. The one at the supermarket has things in it you will never find in fresh pesto, whey, milk, canola oil, water and 2% or less of garlic purée. Some brands do have pine nuts, others use walnuts. But, there is nothing like the real thing.
Pesto is one of the easiest sauces to make and can be used on a variety of foods. Heck, it’s good just on a spoon!
When you make pesto, it’s important to have fresh ingredients. If you can find pine nuts in the refrigerated section, those are best. If not, look for nuts that are of a uniform pale cream color, with no spots. Pine nuts are the edible seeds of, yes, pine trees. Please use good Parmesan cheese as well, you don’t have to get Parmigiano-Reggiano, but at least get the cheese in the refrigerated section.
If you’re angry at someone and want to take your aggression out on something, you can use a mortar and pestle, and grind away for a very long time. Or, if you don’t have any aggression, then please use a food processor.
- 4 cups basil leaves, stems removed
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
- Put the basil leaves into the processor and process them until they are cut up. Don't let them become a paste.
- Remove the basil from the processor and add the garlic. Process the garlic.
- Add the pine nuts and process until they are small bead size, about the same size as the garlic.
- Return the basil to the processor, and process altogether for a second or two.
- Add the Parmesan and pepper, and process until it is all incorporated. You should have pretty much a paste going by now.
- With the processor going, slowly start adding the olive oil. You may not need all the oil, or you may need more. You should stop adding oil before you can see it. Looking at the picture will give you a good idea of what it should look like.
- You should have about 1 1/2 cups or so of pesto. Refrigerate immediately to prevent spoilage.
- To use the refrigerated pesto, remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.