Perfect Italian Pesto – a delicious green sauce made with fresh basil leaves that’s perfect for any pasta, salad, or for topping anything from vegetables to proteins. Made in minutes, devoured in seconds.
I come from old world Italians who came to this country by boat etc. etc. They would make pesto by chopping and mincing everything by hand. You know why? Because they didn’t have food processors back then and no one could afford a blender. Now, if you want to 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 Peruvian great grandmother, Mama Manuela, used to make Peruvian pesto by using a mortar and pestle because that’s all she had. When my aunt Renee came over to the United States, she had a blender. Guess what? I never saw my aunt use anything other than a blender. If I asked her why she wasn’t sweating it out making it the old fashioned way, she would look at me like I had two heads, call me some names in Spanish, and shake her head like I was an idiot.
Same goes for the Italian side of my family. They have appliances now and use them when they can because they can. 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. Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s make some delicious Italian pesto. We are going to use a food processor, because we can.
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. Yum, yum, yum!
As for the cheese, I use Parmesan, but only if I don’t have Romano. Romano takes it to another level because it’s more pungent and saltier than Parmesan. Because of its saltiness, I suggest starting out with a pinch of salt then adjust after the cheese is mixed in. Try it, you’ll love it.
Make this Italian pesto and give the Peruvian and Spinach a try as well.
Like Italian? Try:
Life is too short for mediocre food.
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Perfect Italian PestoPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 - 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 3 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves 4 ounces
- kosher salt to taste*
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano 3 ounces
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 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 chopped. 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.