The first time I had pesto was in Italy almost ten years ago. It was handmade by a 93-year old Italian woman name Giulia who I was living with over the summer during a college study abroad trip. The basil came from her patio garden and the Parmesan cheese from the little deli downstairs. She served it with homemade potato gnocchi and I am 100% sure it will be served in Heaven.
Since that trip, I have searched for the perfect pesto recipe with the ideal ratios of basil to garlic to cheese to olive oil. This one is my favorites though I do wish I’d thought to get Giulia’s recipe while in Rome. However, in true Italian fashion, I doubt she even used a proper recipe, having memorized the perfect ratios over time.
Husband and I started a basil plant earlier this spring, and all of a sudden, it seemed to explode in growth a couple of weeks ago. It was perfect for a few batches of basil pesto–a go-to for us because it can be made ahead of time and frozen. It then makes for a quick week-night dinner when defrosted and tossed with your favorite pasta or spread over chicken and baked.
My only caveat is to either freshly grate your Parmesan or buy a good quality pre-grated kind. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT use the green bottle stuff. Not only will you cause a revolt in Italy if you’re found out, but you’ll ruin the batch of what should be perfect pesto.
- Yields: 1 cup
- 2 (packed) cups fresh basil leaves, stems discarded
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 1/2 (up to 2/3 cup) good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup good quality, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- In a food processor, add your basil, garlic, half of the olive oil, pine nuts and cheese. Pulse until roughly combined and the add the rest of the olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Pulse again until smooth and serve immediately. If freezing, pour the pesto into an air-tight container and freeze for 2-3 months.