Helen's Home > Recipes > Basil Pesto
Basil Pesto
There are two major differences between the ubiquitous pesto you are likely to find in your local Italian restaurant and real Ligurian pesto: the quality of basil and the use of butter. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about the basil unless you are willing to move to Liguria. Their basil is so delicate and aromatic that it's hailed all over Italy as the first choice for pesto. Luckily, the butter is a much easier improvement. It's a myth that Italians don't use butter - what do you think makes pasta taste so good! Pesto made with both oil and butter is creamy rather than greasy, and has a better balance of flavors.

Ahead of time note:
Pesto is very perishable and should be eaten as quickly as possible (ideally within a few hours), but it freezes beautifully. If you want to freeze a batch, puree basil, pine nuts, and oil and freeze this mixture in a zip lock bag. Defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours (just don't put it in warm water or you'll cook the basil.) Right before serving, stir in cheese, mashed garlic, and butter.

Makes enough for 8 first course pasta servings
Ingredients Directions
2 cups tightly packed basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp butter, softened
Salt to taste
Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese in a food processor and puree scrapping down the bowl several times. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil to make a thick, creamy mixture. Move the pesto to a bowl and stir in butter with a spoon until completely integrated. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a day. Stir before serving as the top layer turns brown very quickly.


Copyright 2005, Yelena Malyutin Rennie. All rights reserved.