Brought to us by the Genoese. Pesto is refreshing, light, gentle and to die for. The popularity of pesto may have hindered its flare, due to the need for fresh high-quality ingredients that are essential when making this amazing sauce. I can’t say that I have ever had an acceptable pesto sauce outside of making it from scratch. Due to the nature of the ingredients used for this sauce, it is practically impossible to recreate its flavor commercially. Consequently, this provides an opportunity to create a sauce that will provide a unique experience for anyone that has never had homemade pesto. Get ready for the smiles! The ingredients for this basil pesto recipe are basil, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese.
Types of Basil for Pesto
Thai basil, purple basil, and sweet basil are some of the most common types of basil. Any of the mentioned basil will yield delicious pesto and yet each iteration will taste very different. Purple basil is similar to sweet basil, but it is much less sweet and has a much stronger clove taste. Thai basil is in a league of its own, due to its strong citrus profile. Pesto is traditionally made with fresh sweet basil from the Italian Riviera. Everyone’s palate is a little different, but personally, I prefer purple basil for my pesto. I grow my own purple basil because it is not available where I live. More likely than not, purple basil and Thai basil will not be available in any of the big grocery store chains.
The Cheese for Pesto
Traditionally the pecorino cheese that is referred to as fiore sardo, is the cheese used for making pesto along with parmigiano-reggiano. Fiore sardo is not found where I live and therefore I use pecorino romano instead. Pecorino romano is my favorite cheese and it is magical with pesto. Like any sauce, the ratio is really up to the taster. Yes, It is completely acceptable to experiment with any cheese, so go crazy.
Pine nuts go beautifully with pesto. However, pine nuts are hefty and may cause an allergic reaction to some people. In light of this, a great substitution for pine nuts is breadcrumbs. Any ingredient in this recipe is customizable and completely optional. After all, there is no one else like you and at the end of the day, you are the one eating it so go wild. Don’t forget to tag us on your recreations, especially if you decided to tweak the recipe! Maybe your creation will be even better.
Tools Needed for Pesto
To make this basil pesto recipe, the ingredients are combined by a food processor, mortar and pestle, or a blender. Each of the mentioned tools will yield a different consistency. A mortar and pestle is the traditional tool for Pesto. Certainly, the Genoese would agree that the mortar method produces the best pesto. Moreover, the mortar method maintains the purity of the ingredients because it doesn’t produce significant heat. Ultimately, this sauce will taste incredible no matter which of the mentioned tools you use. Pesto is incredible on almost anything. Notably, pesto is great on salads, fresh pasta, and even on a piece of toast.
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Basil Pesto Recipe
- Food Processor
- Aluminum Foil
- 5 cloves Garlic peeled
- 2 cups Basil packed
- ¼ cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
- ¼ cup Pine Nuts
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2-3 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- Preheat the oven to 420°
- Place 5 peeled cloves of garlic in the center of a square of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Lift the edges of the foil to form a ball around the garlic, pinching the edges together at the top. Place garlic in the middle rack of the preheated oven and roast for 20-30 minutes until golden.
- Once the garlic is done roasting, place the basil, Pecorino Romano cheese, pine nuts, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of roasted garlic and 1 tbsp of lemon juice into a food processor.
- Pulse the food processor until a creamy but chunky consistency is achieved, gradually add garlic, lemon juice, and salt until the desired taste is achieved.