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Friday, August 14, 2020

Second Best Pesto Method

Most of the experts I read indicate they think the best way to make pesto is in a mortar and pestle. 


Second Best Pesto Method 

The source is an article written by Ella Quittner in in which she reports on testing she undertook to find the best method to make pesto. She based her recipe on one found in a book published last fall Pasta Grannies by Vicky Bennison. (I just love the title of that book!)

Yields about 1/3 c or enough for 3/4 pound of pasta depending on your preference.

1 clove garlic
1/2 teas salt (rock salt can provide grinding traction, but coarse kosher is fine, as is table salt but use less table salt)
3-ish cups basil leaves (tender, young leaves if possible unless you grow your own)
3-ish T Italian pine nuts, untoasted, or chopped walnuts since true Italian pine nuts are expensive and you may not have them in your pantry
1/3 c mildly flavored extra-virgin olive oil
a heaping 1/3 c grated cheese (can be a mix of parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano)

Put all ingredients minus the cheese and olive oil, into a wide jar (a quart-size container or quart mason jar or a pickle jar; anything slightly wider than the immersion blender). With the immersion blender, blend as finely as possible. Stop and scrape the sides and the inside of the blender occasionally. You'll end up with a paste (I guess that's where it gets its name). 

Drizzle the olive oil in as best you can while still running the blender (or simply pour it in and then run the blender). Add the cheese and continue blending. I ended up with a nearly smooth product. 


I found it simpler to blend when I coarsely chopped the basil leaves and used something wider than a quart mason jar. Even a saved quart yogurt container works here and it's much easier to scrape out the finished pesto. When I tripled the recipe, I did it in a medium sized bowl.

I once saw a suggestion for using pecans. I haven't tried that yet but I liked walnuts more than I thought I would. 

I wanted the pesto to stay a bit greener so I added a half cup of parsley to the basil. I didn't notice much change in flavor.

I have enough basil I will need to freeze some of this for the winter. When researching, I found both pros and cons for freezing it with the cheese already mixed in. I ended up freezing mine without cheese and will just stir it into the pasta when I mix in the pesto. I find it easy to freeze in a quart-size freezer bag and then I can break off what I need.

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