The Recipe: How to make basil pesto at home. My simple pesto recipe calls for just five ingredients and two easy-to-remember techniques to prevent the problems that we some times encounter with homemade pesto, bitterness and muddiness.
My pesto recipe is made without cheese, that means that sweet, fresh basil flavor really lets loose.
Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.
So these are my two simple tips for making basil pesto at home.
AVOID BITTERNESS To avoid the bitterness that can ruin pesto, I start off the pesto in the food processor but then finish it by hand, just a quick stir, really. Why finish the pesto by hand? Because there's a chemical reaction between good olive oil and the "heat" of the food processor's blades.
And no, I didn't figure that out myself, America's Test Kitchen did – although I do "dream" about ATK ideas, thanks to falling asleep listening to the weekly podcast. (Modern Life: some times I must listen to the same podcast five or six times to get all the way through!) If you like, listen online, just click the "radio" button near the top of the home page.
AVOID MUDDINESS This one may be more controversial because, yeah, I suppose, pesto isn't really pesto unless it contains some cheese, usually freshly grated Parmesan. But to my taste, cheese muddies basil's quintessential summer freshness and fragrance. Without cheese, the basil in Homemade Basil Pesto stays right out in front, unveiled by dusky dairy.
HOMEMADE BASIL PESTO WITHOUT CHEESE
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes about 3/4 cup
JUST FIVE INGREDIENTS
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups packed (60g) sweet basil
- 1/4 cup (30g) toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
In a food processor, process the garlic and salt until garlic is finely minced, scraping the bowl's side a time or two if needed.
Add the basil and pine nuts, process until both are in tiny still-distinguishable bits but not mushy.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the olive oil.
Can be made a day or two ahead of time but is really best when completely fresh. Once refrigerated, return to room temperature before using.
ALANNA's TIPS Our herb pots overflow with basil choices, chocolate, lemon, Thai, etc. But for pesto, I stick with tradition and use only what is often called "sweet basil". It has the sweetest most basil-y flavor and its leaves are more tender. It's not too late to put in a few herbs, see Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again. Put the pots in a sunny spot, they'll thrive through the first frost. No pine nuts? No problem! Use walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, even sunflower seeds!
What To Make with Homemade Basil Pesto
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