Pesto

Pesto

Details

This beautiful, fresh pesto is packed with flavor.
  • Serves: 2 to 4
  • Active Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Views: 42,459
  • Success: 100%

Steps

Step 1: Making the Pesto

• 1/3 cup pecorino cheese
• 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
• 1 large garlic clove
• 1 cup packed, fresh basil leaves (approx. 2 bunches)
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• kosher salt (to taste)

Method

To begin the pesto, grate each cheese and toss to combine. Using a mezzaluna knife (or a chefs knife or food processor), begin by chopping the garlic.

Add the basil in three portions, making sure to incorporate each amount before adding the next. Do the same with the pine nuts, incorporating them in two batches. Once the mixture is finely chopped, gather everything together and incorporate the cheese in two batches, finely chopping everything together. Transfer to a bowl and add the olive oil. Add enough oil until you reach the consistency you like.

Lastly, taste the pesto for seasoning. You may not have to add any salt. It will depend on how salty the cheese is.

Chef's Notes

You can also use a food processor to make pesto, but you may not get the same nice texture. This pesto is at its peak when fresh. Use the pesto as soon as possible, or cover it with a thin layer of olive oil and store in a sealed container for a few days in the refrigerator. You can freeze it, but it may lose some of its flavor and color.

45 Comments

  • Steve E
    Steve E
    I was blown away at how simple it is to make such flavorful pesto at home. I do not however own a Mezzaluna knife but instead just used my largest chef's knife and had great results. Whatever pesto I don't use right away I tend to freeze in serving size zip lock bags with about four or five tablespoons each. This way I've always got pesto handy for whenever the urge hits.
  • Clay T
    Clay T
    I have made it and substituted walnuts for pine nuts with excellent results.
  • Renee L
    Renee L
    I'm guessing the answer is no, but is it possible to freeze it without ruining it completely?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    In fact it freezes quite well. I like to portion it into 2 or 3 tablespoon portions first. I line a baking tray with plastic wrap and portion the pesto and place each portion onto the baking tray and then freeze it. Once it's frozen I then take all of the portions and throw them into a ziploc or in to a vacuum pack machine (removing all of the air really extends its freezer life). Pesto if stored properly will keep for months in the freezer!
  • Barbara-ann  N
    Barbara-ann N
    I used to be the female Singing Chef in Chicago, where I'd teach cooking and also teach karaoke, while the stews were simmering. I grew up own purple organic basil last year, and had great success, but with the surplus didn't know what do to with it, until I discovered pesto and tried several recipes. A few months ago I was in a restaurant supply store and found a German Mesa Luna for 1/2 off, and bought it, (not knowing what it was for, but since most of my cutlery is German, I just added it on impulse.) Then I received this video on Pesto using the Mesa Luna. Immediately I zoomed off to buy the ingredients, and made it. Superb! la la la la la, I'm still singing its favors. I especially loved the consistency that held together so beautifully.
  • Sean D
    Sean D
    I was wondering if you could use other nuts, and how it would affect the flavour.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You can use Walnuts or Almonds instead. I even know of someone who uses cashew nuts. It it not "classic" way to make pesto, but that never hurt anyone. The flavor of course will be a bit different but not much. In fact many stores that make pesto and sell it, actually use almonds instead of pine nuts as they are cheaper...read the ingredients.
  • Valarie O
    Valarie O
    I freeze the Pesto in ice cubes trays and then throw the frozen cubes in a ziplock bag! Valarie
  • Greg I
    Greg I
    Living in Australia, macadamia nuts are readily available and so last night I prepared this using dry-roasted macadamia nuts and macadamia nut oil. It came out delicious.
  • Dawn F
    Dawn F
    Perfect! I wanted to use the mezzaluna, but ran out of time, so had to use the food processor. As recommended I added the olive oil in a bowl instead of the food processor to keep the rustic texture. I have lots of basil in my garden so I made a triple batch, most of it in the freezer. Served over the excellent Gnocchi recipe also on this site. The only change was to double the garlic to meet my families desires for LOTS of garlic. I also used higher quality cheeses and olive oil with tremendous results.
  • Matilde C
    Matilde C
    this recipe is very good and similar to the tradicional one invented in Genova ,Italy. If you want to be as much tradicional as possible then use a marble mortar and a pestle, that's where the name comes from. But the food processor nowadays is so much faster ! as italian i'm absolutly horrified by the possibility to use other kind of nuts, then it's not Pesto alla genovese, but some other thing, maybe very good but nt our Pesto! Pay attention to the quality of the olive oil you use , it has to be an extra vergin possibly a delicate one from Liguria (italian Riviera)
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You are so right Matilde, I recently bought an extra virgin olive oil from Liguria and it was so great. The flavor was just as you described it "delicate" but still full of flavor. p.s. I see that one of your favorite desserts is Tiramisu, do you have a recipe for it? Or any feedback to making the perfect one.
  • Jole C
    Jole C
    Thank you Dawn! Before seeing this video I never realised how easy it was to make a very good pesto. I don't own a mezzaluna knife, so I used my chef's knife: the result was really good.
  • Jenny M
    Jenny M
    and so delicious!
  • Jonathan C
    Jonathan C
    I'm used to making pesto 5-10 gallons at a time at restaurant I work at. So you can imagine the skepticism at which I looked at your recipe... "why go through each ingredient individually when I can just buzz them all down at once?!?" Boy was I wrong. Your way definetly yields a better product. Even though it's still impractical at work...:(
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Glad you saw the difference. A similar texture can be achieved using a food processor, you just have to add the olive oil at the end out of the food processor. Here's a video: http://rouxbe.com/drilldowns/208
  • Dara M
    Dara M
    I have always added the pesto at the end, straight into the food processor. So, I was intrigued by your method. I like the texture of your pesto much better, so will be trying this next time. Great video!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Glad you like it...I also love the texture of this pesto...just in case you missed it, here is a Drill-down for making it in a food processor as well http://rouxbe.com/drilldowns/208 Just in time for all of the basil that is seems to be growing so nicely!
  • Kelly M
    Kelly M
    You may already have a great substitute for a mezzaluna in your kitchen. A good pizza wheel can perform the same task in an almost identical fashion. I prefer the design of the Zyliss, but almost any good pizza wheel will do, as long as it is not one of those silly cheap stainless ones you might find in the local supermarket. Many pizzerias use really large mezzalunas to cut up their pizzas; turnabout is fair play. :)
  • Steven G
    Steven G
    I know that traditionally pesto uses Basil, but I have a ton of spinach leaves that I want to use up. I also sometimes throw in some parsley for the color.
  • Shaw L
    Shaw L
    Yes I agree that mixing up the greens can be a non-traditional way to change things up for some fun experiments! Arugula and basil is a good mix! Not sure of any other good mixes?
  • Jerry B
    Jerry B
    I tried this out tonight using the food processor method. It turned out great. I'll have to remember this for those days when I know that I won't have much time to cook. I'm pretty sure it took longer to boil my water for the pasta than it did to prepare the pesto.
  • David G
    David G
    I tried out Cook's Illustrated's version of pesto today because I wanted to try this extra step: They say to take the garlic in it's skin and heat it in a dry pan (moving it around) for about 7 minutes until it darkens slightly or you get a nice aroma. What is this step exactly? Is it a quick way of (sort of) roasting the garlic? Then I was instructed to peel and chop it up with toasted pine nuts. I did find it not as "garlic-y" as I remember when making with raw garlic. Not better - not worse... need to do some tasting tests against this recipe. Anyhow - have you ever heard of treating the garlic this way specifically for pesto? Am I getting extra layers of flavor? What's the deal? Your thoughts appreciated... thanks.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Yes, you can roast garlic in a pan. Roasted garlic will have a mellower flavor compared to raw garlic, which is why I suspect they tried this. It seems as though it is just another variation for making pesto. This is the great thing about cooking - you can experiment/tweak/adjust/improve a recipe once you understand techniques. Just like our salsa verde - we took the tomatillos and decided to roast them for a variation and wound up with another really delicious salsa. Sometimes the good old fashioned way is still the best, but it doesn't hurt to try different variations. You might find something that suits your tastes better. Good for you for trying. That's what it's all about. Cheers!
  • Wendy B
    Wendy B
    I made this pesto yesterday and am eating it tonight (on pasta) and oh my goodness, what a difference from commercial pestos. I could eat this by the spoonful, just to enjoy the manifold layers of flavour. I am so glad I have healthy basil plants this year! Thanks for a terrific recipe!
  • Luis R
    Luis R
    What kind of basil do you use? Here I have only a basil with small leafs. The one you used had huge leafs!
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    It was Italian basil and I believe we shot this video near the end of summer when the leaves were quite large. Small is fine - they'll be super tender. You'll just need more of them :)
  • Joanne S
    Joanne S
    Great with walnuts also, especially where I live pine nuts are up to 18.99lb,. wiss i could grow them.
  • Regina M
    Regina M
    Adding rocket with your basil also adds at little more bite. I'm new to Rouxbe and haven't tried this method to make pesto but I have included rocket with basil in the past. I love the taste of rocket and this can add a different edge to the traditional basil.
  • Regina M
    Regina M
    I've just made my first pesto the Rouxbe way and it is sensational. I had lots of fresh basil from my little herb garden (here in Brisbane Australia) and love pesto. I will be having pesto pasta for dinner. Love it!
  • Sophia K
    Sophia K
    I have several basil plants in the garden. The purple basil really grows well! I saw one other comment a few years back about purple basil. Any thoughts on using it for pesto or anything else? So far I have only used it for salads. I do dry it and use it in other recipes, I guess I should just try it for pesto, but will it be purple instead of green?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Indeed, you can use purple basil to make pesto. And yes, it will be a dark purpley-brown color rather than green, but the taste will still be delicious. For more ideas on what to do with your purple basil, I found this post entitled, "Growing Purple Pesto & What to do with it", that you might find helpful. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Sophia K
    Sophia K
    Thanks Dawn! The site was indeed helpful and i will return to it again and again, I am sure as the P.Basil plant in humungous! The basil with almond pesto is delish. You guys do such a great job in answering us and are so helpful it is really appreciated. sophia
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You are most welcome Sophia and thanks for your kind words...they are much appreciated. Good luck with all of your delicious basil experiments. Cheers!
  • Alexandre S
    Alexandre S
    Hi. How much should I use for a 70 g portion of uncooked pasta? Thanks in advance,
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The amount of pesto you should use will ultimately depend on your taste. With that smaller amount of pasta, I would start with about a teaspoon and then go up from there. Cheers!
  • Anna maria B
    Anna maria B
    I've never liked pesto until I tried to make it on my own after this recipe. Rouxbe makes everything seem so easy! :P I just love this site! My pesto turned out soooo amazing! I can't wait to put in on a pizza. :) Thank you! Anna
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    So glad that you liked the pesto Anna Maria. And thank you very much for your kind words :-) Cheers!
  • Lea
    Lea
    ...and I think you should have a class on mezzaluna skills ;) Although it looks easy, it took me a while to get the hang of it. That said - I was amazed at how flavorful this was. All the pesto I've tried before has been bland in comparison. No need to add salt - the pecorino was salty enough. I ate my pesto with a little goat cheese and toasted ciabatta. Next stop the orecchiette with the cream and pesto sauce!
  • Merna B
    Merna B
    And new goslings...well I planted rows of basil, let my tiny geese out of the pen and they ripped out a whole row in 2 minutes flat. The remains made wonderful pesto which is going in the freezer this afternoon. My geese have good taste by the way, the pesto is excellent! Now to plant again behind a fence.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Oh, that is quite a cute story Merna. Indeed, it sounds like the geese have good taste :-) Good luck with your next batch of planting. Cheers!
  • Geni P
    Geni P
    I've never had pesto before but I've been wanting to make it for a long time. Today I went out and snipped a few fresh sprigs of basil from my back yard, and the next thing you know, I'm eating pesto on home made tortilla chips. Absolutely wonderful! Can't wait until the next cutting on the basil. I'll definitely be making this again!
  • Paula S
    Paula S
    is it ok to preserve the pesto by canning it using a pressure cooker or the water bath method?
  • Leigh S
    Leigh S
    Paula, I am sort of surprised that you haven't had a response on this yet, so I am chiming in. Just Google it, and you'll find lots of opinions and controversy about this. Based on what I have read, I'd skip the idea! I've quoted a few cautionary posts that I have found while researching this -- "As much as I'm sure you want to hear that you can preserve pesto using a canning method, the short answer is that you can't. The problem is the lack of acid. Since most pesto recipes don't call for a acidulant, the pH level would allow botulism to develop in the finished product" OR "Yes, theoretically you could pressure can the pesto, but all that cooking would really destroy the freshness and you would no longer have pesto, but some indistinguishable greenish paste. The National Center for Food Preservation does not recommend canning it." AND finally, the one that convinced me to just make some fresh, each time I need it... "Here is the pesto consideration that seems to cause the most concern for our local health department food inspectors. It contains both garlic and olive oil. Garlic, grown in the ground, carries with it the potential for a proliferation of botulism. Olive oil creates the perfect anaerobic environment in which botulism thrives. Without acid or refrigeration, the potential could be deadly. Or so they tell us. And I, being a reasonable sort who values my life, take their word for it and freeze my pesto rather than canning."
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Leigh - Thanks for chiming in. That's why we have a community of students here! I agree 100% re: freezing pesto. Canning would completely diminish the color and vibrancy of the pesto. ~Ken

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