Pesto is such a heavenly sauce. The sharp garlic mixed with fresh basil, rich Parmesan, and good quality olive oil creates a vibrant combination of flavors that is delicious when eaten with pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and so much more.
What makes it so great?
Well, it’s probably the only renowned pasta sauce that is not cooked. And since it doesn’t touch the stove once, it’s incredibly easy to make.
That being said, since it’s made up of just a handful of ingredients, it’s also easy to mess up the ratios and end up with a not so great pesto.
What is pesto made of?
Basil. Pesto gets it’s color and aroma from the fresh basil leaves. Basil has the most beautiful smell, it’s almost like therapy. We should change the saying to “stop and smell the Basil” because it really is that fragrant.
Garlic. Make it fresh and you’re set for success.
Pine nuts. These can be pricey, but don’t skip this ingredient. If necessary, substitute with walnuts, cashews, or whatever nut you have on hand.
Olive oil. Make sure you use a good quality one. Since this sauce is not cooked, you really taste every ingredient tenfold.
Salt. This is a no brainer. Season your food y’all! Especially if you’re planning on using it as a pasta sauce. It’s kinda impossible to add salt to pasta sauce once it’s already mixed with the pasta. If you know you know.
How can I spice up pesto?
Just like anything else, too much of anything is bad. So, if you’re looking to change up the flavor profiles in your pesto just get creative! Try an arugula walnut pesto or a spinach cashew pesto! Or try adding cream to this recipe for a creamy, irresistible pesto. The possibilities are endless.
Do I need to use a mortar and pestle?
The short answer is no. For a true, authentic pesto, you will want to get your hands on a mortar and pestle. Using this method for mashing the ingredients together creates a different harmony than throwing everything in a food processor or blended.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll get delicious pesto either way. But the flavors are so much stronger when you do it by hand because the fibers in the basil aren’t completely broken apart as they are when processed or blended.
So, you don’t need to use one, but you will get a way stronger pesto if you do. But watch out, if you have never had a pesto mashed by hand the flavors may be too strong for you to handle. No joke. I would say give it a try both ways then move forward with which ever worked better for you.
Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
- 1 mortar and pestle, or food processor/blender
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- To taste salt
- Combine all ingredients in mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender, and combine mash, process, or blend until smooth and fully combined.
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