one of my favorite things to make and eat, and one of the simplest once you have the ingredients. of course great on pasta, or meats, vegetables, bread, or basically anything edible. here’s my recipe for the essential basil pesto with options for variations noted. you’ll need a food processor, or mortar + pestle + muscle.

start by grinding 3-4 cloves raw garlic with 2-3 tablespoons pine nuts (raw or toasted, both good). in place of pine nuts, could use walnuts or probably any other nut. peanut, hazelnut, cashew nut, macadamia nut…pistachio nut, red pistachio nut, all natural white pistachio nut…

pick and wash a lot of basil. usually one large bunch/package will do, but depending on the generosity of the bunch/package, may need two. err on the side of more. dry with paper towels and add to bowl, with a good grind of pepper and some salt. other herbs or greens work too, but of course then you’ll be straying from anything resembling classic ligurian basil pesto. if you’re feeling up for it try arugula, spinach, watercress, kale, parsley, etc.

start adding (good quality, obviously) olive oil and processing basil. eventually add about 1/2 cup of oil, give or take (probably give) until you reach a desired consistency, which could be closer to wet and runny or more dry and pastey, depending on preference.

add about two handfuls (1ish cup) of (freshly!) grated cheese. I prefer an even mix of pecorino romano and parmesan, but either one works on its own and other varieties of harder cheeses work too.

if it’s too think, I’ll add a splash of the pasta cooking water.

taste & adjust–the most important step.

nevermind the next step is the most important step: eating lots of freshly made pesto.

check this list out for more ideas for variations that include scapes, pepitas, red peppers, anchovies, and sun dried tomatoes.


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