Homemade Pesto

The container garden on our terrace is really starting to thrive. I’ve picked some lettuce leaves already and my carrots are starting to mature, my beets are coming up, and so are my chives, but not my basil and oregano. I wanted to make pesto awhile back, but thought I’d wait for the basil in my garden to grow, but after two plantings, my basil has yet to pop up, so I finally broke down and bought basil at the supermarket to make my pesto. The basil had a very pleasant smell but probably not as pleasant had I of picked it from my own garden! I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I thought herbs were the easiest thing to grow. I must be doing something right since everything else is growing. It’s a mystery. I think I’ll give it another try though.

Anyway, the recipe for pesto is very easy. Originally pesto was created by the Genoese as a way to use their extremely fragrant basil. Traditionally basil was made using a mortar and pestle. Actually the name pesto comes from the word pestare, which means to grind. I, like many people, just used a food processor and got very desirable results.

Traditionally you have pesto with spaghetti or potato gnocchi. The Genoese serve the pesto with a type of pasta identical in shape to fettuccine. I served the pesto with angel hair pasta and a side of salad made with arugula.

The recipe:


1- 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil

2- 1/2 cup olive oil

3- 3 tablespoons pine nuts

4- 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

5- salt

6- 1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

7- 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature


1- Wash and thoroughly dry the basil.

2- Put the basil, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and pine nuts in the food processor. Process to a smooth consistency.

3- If freezing the basil, put in a ziploc bag and freeze at this point. If using fresh, continue to the next step.

4- Put the pesto in a bowl and add the cheese and butter stirring to distribute the ingredients evenly.

5- After cooking the pasta, reserve a few tablespoons of the starchy cooking water in the pot of pasta. Spoon the pesto directly over the pasta and distribute with tongs.

And to drink:

We had Samuel Adams Summer Ale. The pepper and citrus flavors paired very well with the pasta. It also paired well with the arugula, which has a peppery taste.

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