Yum

How to make homemade pesto – Three recipes

How to make homemade pesto – Three recipes

Right after finding out that I don’t use just basil to prepare it, a friend during a dinner exclaimed: “Then it’s not pesto!”
The irrefutable tone of this sentence made me smile. After all, I am also pretty strict concerning my culinary beliefs. Nevertheless, in this case, I want to tell you a story, and it is the same story I told that day. The word pesto comes from the verb pestare, to pound, to crush. Already in the Middle Ages we can find traces of the existence of sauces prepared combining different herbs, garlic and oil, by using a pestle. A famous example is the roman Moretum – a cheese, garlic and herb spread. Another one is agliata, a beaten mixture of walnuts and garlic which occupied a privileged spot in the Ligurian people’s nutrition. In particular, sailors consumed large quantities of it during navigations because they thought it had curative properties against illnesses. Of course, at a certain moment they had to realize that the delicious variety of basil that grew in their region was the perfect partner for the perfect combination…


The codified recipe of Pesto alla Genovese is much recent though, the first traces of it dating to the XIX century. While this is certainly the most famous, it’s not the only one! Regional and personal variations are the norm, and I am so thankful they exist because I loooove pesto in all its forms. The recipes I am sharing with you are the ones I personally use, so there is my touch and personal taste inside. My zucchini pesto is adorable for its creamy texture and delicate flavor, and my leek and arugula pesto a great combination of bittersweet.
And now, let’s get started!

pesto

 Preparing homemade pesto

Traditionally, pesto needs to be prepared with a marble mortar and pestle; for a proper use, the right movement is the circular motion. Doing otherwise, you risk to cause fast oxidation of the basil leaves and consequently an unpleasant black colour. In my case, as the buzz of modern life has taken over me and I love home appliances, I use a food processor. Less romantic, I know, but functional, believe me! I know the purists would be horrified, but I don’t want to challenge the traditional method, just to find a functional alternative with a good result.

Following these instructions you’ll obtain a kick ass pesto. To avoid oxidation, follow these steps:
1- put the blades and the glass of the food processor in the freezer for around an hour before starting
2- action the food processor on and off intermittently during preparation
3- don’t action at maximum speed
Of course, the result depends on the quality of ingredients as well. If you don’ t have Pecorino you can use Parmigiano, but it’s not recommended – not to say it is forbidden – to use any other cheese. The quality of olive oil is also essential; it must be high quality extra-virgin olive oil or the result won’t be the same. Concerning the basil, as many of us can’t have access to the absolutely fabulous basil from Prà, we will try our best with the freshest basil we can find.

pesto

Pesto with Basil and pine nuts

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, peeled
45 gr. (1 ¾ cups, 1,6 oz) Fresh basil leaves
25 gr (0.88 oz ) pine nuts
50 gr (1/4 cup, 1,7 fluid oz) extra-virgin olive oil
50 gr (1/2 cup, 1,8 oz) pecorino (or Parmesan + pecorino)
¼ tsp salt

Method

Wash the basil leaves, drain them and, without pressing, put them to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Undress the clove of garlic, put it in the food processor and mix for a few seconds. Pour half basil, half oil, salt and blend together until basil is finely chopped. Enter the other half of basil and oil, pecorino, pine nuts and restart the device, intermittently, until the beaten mixture is smooth. Have a taste and season with more salt if needed. Pour into a bowl and dilute it with little olive oil…Your pesto is ready to rock, especially if you pair it with some trofie.

Zucchini and almond pesto

 

Ingredients:

150 gr (1 cup) zucchini, grated
½ tsp salt (for the zucchini)
5 or 6 basil leaves
20 gr (1/8 cups) almonds, whole
50 gr (1/2 cup, 1,8 oz) Parmesan
50 ml (1/4 cup, 1,7 fluid oz) extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Grate the zucchini using a grater with large holes and leave it half an hour covered in salt, to release excess water. Press it afterwards between paper towels if needed. Put it in the mixer with the basil leaves and action it for a few seconds. Add almonds and Parmesan, drizzle in the olive oil. Turn on to break down ingredients until desired consistency is reached. Scrape down the sides of the mixer and taste it, season with more salt if needed. Pour it into a bowl, ready to go!

Leek, arugula and hazelnut pesto

Ingredients

2 leek stalk, small
10 gr. arugula
25 gr. (1/5 cup, 0,9 oz) hazelnuts, whole
50 gr (1/2 cup, 1,8 oz) Parmesan
50 ml (1/4 cup, 1,7 fluid oz) extra-virgin olive oil

pesto

 

 Method

Wash the arugula and put it to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Wash the leeks, dry them, remove the leaves and the green part and finely slice the stalks. Add them in the food processor and blend for approximately 10 seconds. Add arugula and action until it is well chopped.
Put the rest of ingredients and process until coarsely pureed. Depending on how creamier you want it, you can continue processing until it has reached the desired consistency. Taste to adjust seasoning according to your preferences.

pesto

Your last pesto is ready and you can organize a dinner for your friends proposing them a pesto tasting, better if with orecchiette pugliesi, exactly as I did, with great success. Everybody loved it and asked for a second – and third – portion. Zero effort, maximum result!

Note : if you are curious about the recipe of the traditional Pesto alla Genovese, you can find it here.

Enjoy the video recipe here below!

Pesto Recipe

2017-04-19
: 4
: 5 min
: 5 min
: Easy

Easy and tasty homemade pesto. No need to buy it at the supermarket, it takes just 5 minutes!

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 45 gr. (1 ¾ cups, 1,6 oz) Fresh basil leaves
  • 25 gr (0.88 oz ) pine nuts
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup, 1,7 fluid oz) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50 gr (1/2 cup, 1,8 oz) pecorino (or Parmesan + pecorino)
  • ¼ tsp salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Wash the basil leaves, drain them and, without pressing, put them to dry on a clean kitchen towel.
  • Step 2 Undress the clove of garlic.
  • Step 3 Put it in the food processor and mix for a few seconds.
  • Step 4 Pour half basil, half oil, salt and blend together until basil is finely chopped.
  • Step 5 Enter the other half of basil and oil, pecorino, pine nuts and restart the device, intermittently, until the beaten mixture is smooth.
  • Step 6 Have a taste and season with more salt if needed.
  • Step 7 Pour into a bowl and dilute it with little olive oil.


4 thoughts on “How to make homemade pesto – Three recipes”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *