The first time I tasted pesto was in a small restaurant in San Francisco called Restaurante Parma. I was in my late teens-early twenties and on a vacation with my family. Always being the adventurous eater, I ordered the pesto pasta even though I didn’t really know what it was. I’d never tasted anything like it before; there was so much flavor in such a simple dish. I’ve been smitten with pesto ever since.
Pesto is incredibly easy to make from scratch, especially if you have a food processor. It addition to tossing with hot or cold pasta, here’s a few other ways to use pesto:
-mix it with mayonnaise or use as is for a delicious sandwich spread
-spoon it on top of vegetable or minestrone soup
-mix it with sour cream for an easy dip
-recipe from williams-sonoma.com
Originating in Genoa, in the Liguria region of Italy, pesto is an uncooked sauce made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese and olive oil. Today, pesto is made with a variety of other ingredients besides basil. Roasted red bell peppers, arugula, mint and olives are all wonderful foundations for the sauce. Often tossed with cooked pasta, pesto is also delicious served on crostini, spooned onto grilled seafood or chicken, or tucked inside steaks before cooking.
3 to 4 Tbs. pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
2 to 3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
10 to 15 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1⁄2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1⁄4 cup grated pecorino cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a blender or food processor, combine the pine nuts and garlic. Process to chop coarsely. Add about half of the basil and process to chop coarsely. Add the remaining basil, the parsley and olive oil and process until a thick green sauce forms. If the sauce is too thin, add more basil or parsley; if it is too thick, add more olive oil.
Add the cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Process briefly. Pour into a glass jar or other container and top with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the surface from discoloring. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 1 1⁄2 cups.
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