Pesto GenevesePrint This
- 4 cups (1 L) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup (125 mL) pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1½ tsp (7 mL) coarse sea salt
- 1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 cup (250 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
You can make pesto in a food processor if you prefer a smooth consistency. That’s fine. Just whiz the basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt into a paste, then pulse in the Parmigiano and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. But I like to make it with a mezzaluna. It’s easy and you get a much more interesting texture. Plus it’s just more fun.
If you’re using a mezzaluna, put the basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt on a large chopping board and then rock and roll the mezzaluna back and forth, mulching everything until it comes together. At this point, transfer it into a jar. Add the Parmigiano, and then pour in the olive oil. Seal the jar and shake well to mix it all together. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
If you’re going to store it in the fridge for a while, top it up with olive oil so that the pesto is completely covered and then seal the jar. Your pesto will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge this way. You can also portion it into ice-cube trays.
Pesto isn’t just for pasta! I think of it as a natural MSG. It adds an extra layer of flavor or a fresh hit of basil to so many dishes. Try adding a spoonful or two to soups and stews, or rub a bit on chicken or fish before cooking them. A little goes a long way.
Pesto is a very simple sauce in which a few ingredients are chopped together to form a paste and then olive oil is added to bring everything together and give it more flavor and texture.
The beauty of pesto is that there are so many possible variations: use different herbs or nuts. Pesto amalfitano, for example, uses fresh parsley and walnuts. I’ve also seen nut-free and dairy-free versions, and some that omit the garlic. What I’m giving you here is a very basic basil pesto recipe that you can adjust to suit your tastes. For instance, sometimes I toast the pine nuts before I add them. It brings out a slightly deeper, nuttier flavor that I like.