Pesto is one of those sauces that I’ve often heard people say is so much work they might as well just buy it, it’ll taste the same. These people are wrong on both accounts! 1) Pesto is super easy to make and 2) packaged pesto is delicious, yes, I myself use it often! BUT homemade pesto is so unbelievable fresh tasting you’ll wonder why you ever thought to eat anything else but this sauce for the rest of your life. It’s that good. I was actually shocked at how basil-y this recipe is. There’s so much cheese/cream/sugar in packaged pesto that I think everyone is confused at what it really should taste like! Traditionally, pesto consists of crushed basil, garlic, and pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmesan, and Fiore Sardo (a firm sheep’s milk cheese). Fun fact time: the name “pesto” is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound/crush, which refers to the original method of preparation, a mortar and pestle. Don’t you feel smarter now? You deserve some yummy food for your intelligence!
Pesto (adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners, yields about 1 cup)
– 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1/4 cup pine nuts
– 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
– Salt and pepper to taste
First, toast the pine nuts. Place the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Turning often, heat the nuts until they begin to smell and have a golden brown color. Keep an eye on these bad boys, they burn quickly! Transfer to a plate to cool.
Combine the basil, garlic and nuts in a food processor or blender. Roughly chop, then add the oil and pulse until smooth. Stir in the cheese, then season with salt and pepper.
The sauce will last three or four days in the fridge without going brown, but you can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to three months. Just omit the cheese before freezing and add it right before serving!
Pesto is amazing on sandwiches, crostini, pasta, chicken, meatballs, your fingertips, a spoon, etc. Enjoy!