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?!

Recipe:

  • 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.

6 comments:

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.