Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Best Pesto Recipe Ever!

By Jennifer
We love Pesto -- not just in the summer months, but all year long. After 20+ years of making it, I believe I've found the Best Ever Pesto Recipe. It's, ironically, from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (from the editors of Cook's Illustrated) -- a must have cookbook! It's best, of course, when you make it with home grown basil and parsley (flat leaf is best), but store bought works fine, too.

What: Fresh basil, parsley, toasted garlic and pine nuts, good parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil -- what can be better?!


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 4 to 5 minutes)
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic (I use 4, and toast them, too, with the skins on for about 7 minutes, and then peel)
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley (I use extra -- about 1/4 cup of flat leaf -- it keeps the pesto nice and bright green)
  • 7 TBS extra virgin olive oil, salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (pecorino is even better).
  • Place the toasted nuts, garlic, basil/parsley (first bruise the leaves of these together in a freezer bag by beating with a mallet, or using a rolling pin -- or if you have one, a mortar and pestle), oil, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a food processor, and process until smooth.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and stir in cheese.
  • If you're not using right away, place a layer of plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for up to three days.
  • If you're using on pasta, be sure to mix about a 1/4 cup of reserved pasta cooking water into the pesto before you toss through the pasta. ENJOY!
Why It's the Best: Toasting the pine nuts lightly brings out the fullness of their flavor, and the toasting of the garlic cloves is key to the success of this recipe -- it tames the harsh garlic notes, and loosens the skin for easier peeling. And, pounding/bruising the leaves of the herbs before using them releases more of their wonderful flavor.

How We Know: Family and friends love it, and we never tire of eating it (in many different ways -- on pizza, pasta, grilled shrimp/chicken, crostini with goat cheese -- be creative), and it's the first pesto we've ever had where the flavors of the basil and other ingredients aren't overpowered by the garlic -- no dead vampires in our bedroom the morning after!

Craving Level: Frequent -- especially in the summer months when fresh herbs are abundant.


Molly said...

Delicious!!!!! Tried the recipe and loved it!

Marvin said...

This is indeed the BEST pesto recipe ever. And I've made a lot of pesto in my days. I freeze it in the ice cubes tray and eat it all year round. Deeeeelicious!!

ts said...

I prefer to be overpowered by garlic but I'll give this a try. But may I make one suggestion add baby spinach not parsley this will give you a beautiful green color that will not turn brown.

Anonymous said...

YUMMY :) Made this with everything fresh from our garden. Used pecans and added fresh picked spinach. I freeze pesto for use in winter over high protein pasta. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks for sharing it.

Daniel Agnone said...

Is there a serving size for the measurement of the ingredients? Is this for 1 lb. of pasta, or perhaps 1/2 pound? I'm going to be preparing 2 pounds of pasta for a group of people and would love to know how much of each will work. Thanks in advance!

Scott Gillum said...

Hi Daniel - thank you comment. The serving size is usually for a 1 lb of pasta.