Make your own fresh pesto!
Pesto is sauce that is made by mixing basil, pecorino or parmesan cheese,
pine nuts (pinoli), salt, a little garlic and
Michael Rossi pouring the oil into the blender
The name "pesto" derives from the preparation of the sauce with a
pestel and mortar, both very laborious and time consuming.
Pesto comes from the
verte pestare, meaning to crush or beat. Pesto is a
very old sauce, especially in cities on the sea, often hedged in by
mountains and enemy fleets that might prevent access to food. In fact, all
ingredients used in pesto can be kept for long periods while the basil could
be easily grown on the window sills and preserved in oil for a long time.
Pesto is most associated with Genoa, on the Ligurian sea, where this very
popular condiment is said to have been created.
Fresh basil goes into the blender
The original Genovese recipe
produces a sharp, tangy sauce used exclusively with trenette (a fettuccine
shaped pasta, though slightly thinner), minestrone, and gnocchi. It is made
with the local small-leafed basil, fresh garlic, the finest Ligurian olive
oil, local fresh Pecora (a mildly tangy sheep's milk cheese) and fine aged
Parmesan. It is ground in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle and is used
immediately after making. This sauce is not for the faint-hearted. It is
sharp, tangy, and some say harsh. It is meant to satisfy a sailor's appetite
for sharp, clean, green ingredients that he has done without for months.
Only a few miles away in Nervi, the locals cut this recipe with cream to
make it gentler to the palate. Pine nuts (and occasionally walnuts) were
added to the recipe as it evolved, but were not used originally.
Pinaceae/ Pinus pinea e
Also called pinoli, pine nuts are the edible kernels of several
varieties of pine. Pinus pinea is used in sweet as well as in stuffings for
various dishes. They are a traditional ingredient in pesto and commonly used
in dessert cookery.
From Chef Michael Rossi
There is nothing like fresh pesto!
2 cups - Fresh Basil
1/4 cup - Pine Nuts
3 cloves - Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup - Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/2 cup - Extra virgin olive oil
to taste - Salt and Pepper
to taste - Lemon Juice
In a food
processor or blender, combine the pine nuts, garlic and 2 tbsp. of oil and
pulse until mixture is smooth.
Next add the
basil, cheese and the remaining olive oil to the blender and blend until
mixture is emulsified, about 3 minutes.
should creamy in consistency, not soupy!
adjusting seasoning with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice.
Serve over pasta.
Keeps in refrigerator one week, or
may be frozen.
36 - Fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons - Pecorino sardo*, grated*
2 tablespoons - Well aged Parmesan, grated
2 - Large cloves garlic
1 tablespoons - Pine nuts, toasted in the oven a few minutes until
1/3 to 1/2 cup - Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon - Coarse salt (or to taste)
Carefully wash and dry the basil.
a few leaves with a little of the garlic and some of the salt (to preserve
color) in the mortar.
As a paste is formed begin adding olive oil in
Continue adding basil, garlic, nuts and salt as you grind,
dribbling in enough oil to maintain the bright green color and thick
Stir in cheese last.
You may dilute with a little of the
cooking water from the pasta if you wish.
After pasta is placed in the
serving bowl, spoon the pesto over top, toss, and serve immediately.
Native to India,
Africa and the Mediterranean, Basil was called "The Herb of Kings"
by the ancient Greeks. Like many herbs Basil has some medicinal
properties. For example it can be used to draw out poison from
insect bites. Basil was said to have been found growing around
Christ's tomb after the resurrection, and so some churches place it
around altars and use it to prepare holy water.
An easy herb to grow, basil likes
warm weather and lots of sun. There are many varieties of the herb,
but the three most common seem to be the Large Leaf Basil,
the tiny leafed Bush Basil, and the dark Purple Basil.
The most common is the Large Leaf Basil, but they all work
equally well in recipes. If you attempt to grow basil in a garden,
or outside in a pot, be sure to wait until after the last frost. And
also make sure you harvest your Basil plants long before the first
cold snap in the fall. Basil is an annual plant, and so will not
survive the winter outside. When harvesting your grop you should
pull up the entire plant, including the root ball, clearing the way
for next years crop.
Stalks of basil can be added to
bottles of vinegar and used on salads. Use a good quality wine
vinegar and allow the vinegar/Basil to steep for at least 2 weeks
before using. You can do the same with a bottle of olive oil. Basil
leaves can be dried and crumbled and used just like the store-bought
varieties. Fresh Basil leaves can be packed into the bottom of an
air-tight container, covered with olive oil, and stored in the
fridge for a month or 2. Don't freeze your Basil! Freezing will
render it useless.