Originally pesto was a sauce made from basil leaves during summer that, when sealed with oil, would last until winter. Over the years, chefs have adapted the recipe to use different ingredients. Even within Liguria, where Pesto Genovese originated, Ligurians argue over the best way to make it. Purists use a pestle and mortar, but if your kitchen doesn’t have one, use a food processor or blender instead. I prefer to lightly toast the pine nuts to make their presence stronger, although it’s fine to leave them raw.–Katie Caldesi
LC Pesto Made With A Pestle? Note
We found ourselves at something of a crossroads in terms of this recipe. Many of our recipe testers swooned over the coarse, uneven texture lent to the pesto by a mortar and pestle. Others found it quite cumbersome to make this pesto in anything but a food processor. You know your technology threshold and your desire for rusticity better than anyone. We’ll just let you figure that part of the recipe out for yourself.
Pesto Genovese Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 15 minutes | Makes about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup really tightly packed basil leaves, stems removed
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 6 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
- Salt to taste
- 1. Put the basil leaves into a mortar and crush them with a pestle until they become a pulp or process the leaves in a food processor until finely chopped.
- 2. Add the garlic and pine nuts and crush repeatedly.
- 3. Using a metal spoon, stir in 1/3 cup of the olive oil, followed by the Parmigiano-Reggiano. (You may need to transfer the mixture to a bowl to mix.) If a more unctuous consistency is desired, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Taste and add salt if required, but remember that Parmesan is salty. Use immediately. (If you wish to instead store the pesto, pour it into a sterile jar, top with just enough olive oil to cover the surface, screw on the lid, and tuck it away in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.)
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Pesto from Two Peas and Their Pod
- Tagliatelle Genovese from Wrightfood
- Arugula Pesto from Leite's Culinaria
- Green Bean, Tomato, and Potato Salad with Almond and Basil Pesto from Leite's Culinaria
Pesto Genovese Recipe © 2010 Katie Caldesi. Photo © 2010 Lisa Linder. All rights reserved.