Best Pesto Ever




It's harvest time in Northern New England and like every year for the past 20, I'm cutting my basil and putting up a year's worth of pesto. Everyone claims my pesto is the best theyve had anywhere. Now you can have some too.

Step 1: Ingredients

1 food processor, grating and chopping blades

3 cloves - 1 bulb garlic
1/4 lb good parmesan cheese
1/2 stick (2 oz) butter
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c pine (pignola) nuts

1 ice cube tray (for freezing)

Step 2: Prepare the Parmesan

While you can buy already shredded parmesan, I like to use the best ingredients in my pesto, so I buy good parmesan and grate my own. Put the grating blade onto the food processor and grind the parmesan. The piece pictured here is 1/2 lb - enough for 2 batches. I only grated half of it. Remove the grated cheese from the processor bowl (you'll get about a cup of it) and set aside. Remove the grating blade from the processor and put on the chopping blade to get ready for the basil.

Step 3: Prepare the Basil

Pick through the basil saving only the leaves. Throw away any stems, flowers, and bad spots. I aim for a colander full of crisp green leaves. Wash them and dry. You can squeeze handfuls of basil to get the water out or use a salad spinner, towel, etc. Once dried, put it into the food processor bowl.

Step 4: Mmm, Garlic

Peel the garlic and add it to the food processor bowl. I wouldn't use less than 3 cloves and if you're a garlic fan, you can use as much as a full bulb. Here's an easy way to peel garlic: Put your palm on top of a clove. Push down on the back of that hand with your other hand until you feel the clove underneath "give". Now pick up your hand, the skin will peel right off the clove. You can peel a full bulb in 30 seconds this way.

If you add a lot of garlic, you're going to want to add some parsley too. Parsley keeps you from stinking after you eat garlic. Toss a handful of parsley into the processor bowl.

Step 5: Butter and Oil

If you've got health restrictions or dietary preferences, you don't have to use butter, but I find a little bit gives the pesto a creamy consistency that is really luxurious. Take 1/2 a stick of butter and melt it in the microwave or by some other method. If you don't want to use butter, add 1/4 cup of olive oil instead.

To the melted butter add 1/2 cup of olive oil. You can use really find olive oil here, because we're not going to be heating it.

Step 6: Make the Pesto Base

Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the butter and oil. Grind the basil, garlic, and parsley until it is totally smooth and no pieces of basil remain. I usually stop the food processor 4 or 5 times to scrape the sides with a spatula, then grind some more. Grind until it looks like mine does in the picture.

Step 7: Finish It Off

Now add the grated parmesan to the food processor bowl. Use just 4 or 5 quick pulses to mix in the cheese without chopping it further. The chunky consistency of the pesto is one of its best features.

Add the pine nuts and pulse another 5 or 6 times. Aim to chop the nuts some but not pulverize them. The second picture shows the completed pesto.

Step 8: Freeze and Eat Fresh

If you want to freeze some of the pesto, load it into an ice cube tray and freeze it overnight. Once frozen, you can pop out the cubes and save them in a plastic freezer bag. We throw a cube or two onto pasta whenever we need a quick meal. If you're lucky, you'll have a little left over to eat fresh. Pesto is really good on bread, crackers, vegetables like tomatoes and celery stalks, all kinds of pasta, fish, ...



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      7 Discussions


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Ok, i get it, the pine nuts are mentioned elsewhere, sorry :)


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Parsley and Butter are not part of the traditional ingredients for pesto, however i don't doubt that it could be a good idea to use some. I never put all the ingredients together in a food processor, i crush everything separately, i make a paste with the garlic, i crush the pine nuts (u don't mention them by the way, Pesto should absolutely have Pine nuts !), i grate the cheeses (Parmesan AND Pecorino), then i crush the basil (u can use a food processor there) after that i start mixing, tasting, mixing, tasting again, the ingredients are never the same, basil can be more or less dry, the pine nuts to. i nevr add any salt, but i use pepper, long indian pepper to be precise (it's worth a try) Peeling the garlic without removing it's center is a bad idea, the center is hard to digest, and is the biggest cause of bad breath. Your basil looks great !


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Brilliant recipe! We have wild garlic round here, and come next spring I'm going to try Wild Garlic pesto. Yum!


      10 years ago on Introduction

      You might try raw cashews for the nuts too if you have them cheap. (Trader Joes for mine) They are rich and tasty! I usually have them on hand for one reason or another, so they get used more often than pine nuts for me.


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Looks good! I make mine with pecorino cheese as well as parmesan. I also roast the rine nuts first. Really like the idea of freezing for pesto-on-demand!!

      1 reply

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Cool. I never thought of roasting the pine nuts, I'll try that for my next batch. Thanks for the suggestion. I also notice that I forgot to mention adding the salt and pepper. I use 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and add it to the food processor along with the basil leaves.