Authentic Italian Pesto - a delicious green sauce made with fresh basil leaves that compliments any pasta and also tops anything from vegetables to proteins. Made in minutes, devoured in seconds.
I come from a family of old world Italians who came to this country by boat etc. etc. They would make pesto by chopping up and mincing everything by hand. You know why? Because they didn’t have food processors back then and no one could afford a blender. Is this recipe authentic? Yes. It’s authentic in how it tastes which is absolutely delicious. It’s not authentic in how it’s made. Now, if you want to smash or hand chop and make this Italian pesto the old fashioned way, by all means I am not going to stop you. For everyone else, this recipe is for you.
I understand back in the day you did what you had to do to get the job done. My family would make this by using a mortar and pestle because that’s all they had. When they finally got a food processor, guess what? I never saw them using a mortar and pestle again. If I asked why, I would get a look, some comment in either Italian or Spanish, and a shake of the head like I was an idiot.
That doesn’t mean they won’t do things the old fashioned way for certain things, but when they do it’s because they want to, not because they have to. I mean, you don't see people washing clothes by a river using a washboard, do you? The only way I'd be doing that is if I was using someone's washboard abs. Wait. What were we talking about????
Unlike the Peruvian pesto and spinach pesto which have a smooth texture, this will be coarse because we’re using a food processor. There’ll be tiny flecks of the basil and bits of garlic, pine nuts, and cheese. Unlike a blender, a food processor doesn't get it creamy smooth and that's ok because that's the texture we want.
I like to use a lot of garlic because hey, we love garlic! I suggest starting with two or three to start, but if you're a garlic lover like me, by all means use as much as you want. Recipes are only a guideline. You are the creator, so create what tastes good for you.
As for the cheese, I normally use Romano because I buy about ¼ or ½ of a round which is a lot of cheese. Romano takes it to another level because it’s more pungent and saltier than Parmesan. Due to its saltiness, I suggest starting out with a pinch of salt then adjust after the cheese is mixed in. If you have Parmesan, use it.
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- Place basil leaves in a colander and gently rinse basil leaves in warm water. Shake thoroughly to remove excess water. Basil will fluff up once excess water is removed.
- Add garlic and pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Add the basil leaves, a good pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese.
- With the food processor running, slowly stream in the oil through the feed tube and process just enough until smooth and combined. Use immediately.
- If not using right away, drizzle a thin film of extra virgin olive oil over the top, store in airtight container, and store in refrigerator. The oil seals it and keeps it from turning brown. Lasts for about a week in the fridge. The oil will solidify when cold. Simply bring to room temperature and it will return to a liquid. Stir before using.
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