- Servings: about 1 cup.
Pesto Genovese is the classic blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese that is most commonly used as a sauce on pasta. This traditional dish is made with a long pasta -- linquine or fettucine -- along with pieces of boiled potato and green beans.
Because it has an intense flavor, a little pesto goes a long way, the olive oil making it easy to coat a half-pound of pasta with only a few tablespoons. The traditional way of making pesto is with a mortar and pestle but using a food processor or blender is not only faster, it will produce a creamier texture. For an even smoother result, try to completely remove any stems from the basil leaves, as these will not completely purée, leaving little hard bits in the pesto.
Try to buy pine nuts from Europe (Italy, Spain or Greece) and not from China. Chinese pine nuts are often extremely bitter, leaving a metallic taste that can linger for days or even weeks after eating them.
This recipe can be easily doubled and pesto freezes beautifully for up to 6 months. If you don't use the pesto immediately, the basil leaves will oxidize and slightly darken, making the surface of any stored pesto a green-brown color. But just give it a stir when you're ready to use and the bright green pesto beneath the surface will bring the color back.
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 cups fresh, washed basil leaves, packed into the cup measure
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Place the garlic cloves in the food processor or blender and process until finely chopped. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the basket.
- Add the basil leaves, pine nuts and salt and turn on the processor, letting the ingredients begin to combine. While the machine remains on, pour the olive oil into the basket and continue processing until a smooth paste is formed.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the Parmesan cheese and softened butter, using a spatula or wooden spoon to combine completely.
- Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.