When I finally invested in a food processo, making my own pesto was a clear next priority. Unfortunately, my first batch was not very good, I had to add a LOT of quality olive oil for to make it somewhat tasty. In the end however, with much effort I was able to perfect my pesto by adapting an ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ Recipe. Making pesto at home is SO much cheaper than purchasing it at the store (not to mention that pesto is godly in itself). My favorite way to eat it is for breakfast, on a slice of whole grain toast with an a runny egg fried in olive oil on top.
In order to make a great pesto, you need to make sure to select a quality olive oil. When you are cooking with olive oil, differences in quality aren’t really noticeable, but since pesto is refrigerated and often not cooked before serving the quality of the olive oil makes a huge difference. America (unlike Europe) does not regulate standards for labeling oils as ‘extra virgin,’ which means they are free of any imperfections and taste way better than non-virgin olive oil. Because European countries must pass tests by the international olive oil council, they send any batches that do not meet standards to America. If you are in Europe, the best olive oil is produced in Italy or Greece, and although Americans tend to follow the same logic (by purchasing olive oil imported from those countries), if you are buying in America, olive oil produced in California is by far superior to olive oils imported from Europe.
Below is the recipe, I like to make 2-4 batches of it at once and refrigerate in a few medium-sized jars because we are addicted to pesto around here (which reminds me, another great way to enjoy pesto: on top of hummus as a dip).
- 2 C. Freshly Packed Basil Leaves
- 1/4 C. Pine Nuts
- 3 Whole Garlic Cloves
- 7 Tbsp Extra-Virgin (Californian) Olive Oil
- 2 tsp. Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 C. Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Also have a wooden skewer stick and Ziplock Bag on hand
Step 1: brown pine nuts by putting in a non-stick skillet on low heat for about 10 mins, occasionally shake up pine nuts and remove as soon as the pine nuts are only slightly browned (it is very important not to over brown the pine nuts).
Step 2: add basil leaves to the zip lock bag, and using the dull end of a knife, batter the bag on a table. This allows the basil to release its juices.
Step 3: boil pot of water filled almost to the brim, fill a separate bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes. Put garlic cloves (with their paper skins still on) on the wooden skewer and dip into the boiling pot for 10 seconds then immediately transfer garlic into the bowl of ice water until cool enough to touch. This step is called ‘shocking’ the garlic.
Step 4: the skin on the garlic should easily peel off, once peeled chop the garlic into small pieces and add to the food processor with the basil, pine nuts, and olive oil. Blend well.
Step 5: transfer basil, garlic, olive oil , and pine nut mixture from food processor into a bowl. Stir in freshly grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper with a spatula.
Step 6: store final result in container(s) and refrigerate.