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Monday, July 31, 2017

A Perfect Pest-O

The Ingredients (for approximately 490 ml or 2 cups):

  • 110 g (or 4 oz) of basil sprigs
  • 70 g (or 2½ oz) of Italian, or flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 20 g ( or ¾ oz)
  • 3 g (or 1 teaspoon) of salt
  • 1 g (or ½ teaspoon) of freshly ground black pepper
  • 70 g (or ½ cup) of pignolia (pine nuts)
  • 60 g (or ½ cup) of walnuts
  • 240 ml (or 1 cup) of salad grade olive oil
  • 55 g (or 2 oz) of a hard, aged cheese such as Parmigiano (I used Pecorino Romano)

    The Method:
    1. Remove the leaves from the basil stalks and place them into the bottom of a food processor or blender. (Stalks may be saved and used to flavor broth or a casserole.)
    2. Cut the large stems off the parsley,  roughly chop the leaves, and place them on top of the basil.
    3. Peel the garlic cloves and mash or crush them with the salt until they form a paste. Place the paste in the food processor.
    4. Add the pepper, pignolias, and walnuts to the food processor.
    5. Fill a 1-cup measure with the olive oil.
    6. Start the food processor on a medium setting and slowly pour the olive oil in through the feed tube as the herb mixture grinds.
    7. When the oil is all used up open the food processor and add the grated cheese.
    8. Grind again, this time at highest speed, adding additional oil if necessary to produce a spoonable (but not quite pourable) sauce.
    9. Store the pesto in the refrigerator with a tiny layer of salad grade olive oil across the top to prevent oxidation.
    10. To serve with pasta, cook the pasta (I used penne made from lentil flour) according to package instructions, but begin sampling at 5 minutes for doneness.
    11. Drain the pasta and immediately add the desired amount of pesto to freshly boiled and very hot pasta. Stir immediately and continuously until the pesto coats every piece of pasta.
    12. Penne and A Perfect Pest-O with More-Than-a-Mouthful Meatballs,
      also in this blog

      The Story:

      Many years ago I was given an Italian pasta machine and cranked out many a wonderful batch of linguine, spaghetti, and lasagna. As with other kitchen appliances, the instruction manual came with suggestions for recipes. The Pesto Genovese on page 24 was the best I ever tasted, and I never altered anything about the recipe. However, I did black out the suggestion that, if fresh basil was unavailable Italian parsley and a small amount of dried basil could be substituted. No. And now I have my own plants, both sweet basil and Thai basil. When they need to be harvested my thoughts always turn to Pesto Genovese.

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