Basil pesto is one of the easiest types of sauces to make. There is very little preparation for this sauce and it packs a ton of flavor. There are several different types of basil that you can get at your local market. There is cinnamon basil, Thai basil, lemon basil and Genovese basil just to name a few.
Genovese is considered to be one of the best to make pesto the old Italian way, and if it is available it is the one to use. Basil has many medicinal uses as well, but this recipe is for a great flavor addition on your favorite type of pasta. This dish should take less than 30 minutes from start to finish.You will need to come up with a grocery list, so you can get all of the ingredients in hand, to make this great dish.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 3/4 – 1 cup of pine nuts
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- 3/4 Romano cheese shredded
- 1 cup of good quality olive oil
- pinch of salt and black pepper
- You will also need one pound of your favorite pasta (penne pasta, farfalle pasta (bow tie) or fettuccine if you wish.)
- 1/4 cup of heavy cream optional.
I start my water at this point to get ahead of the game, and I use a generous amount of salt in the water for the pasta. Depending on the pasta you use it would be best to follow the directions on the box. Just make sure you add salt the water, it is important.
Get out your food processor or blender at this point. Add your washed basil, garlic and pine nuts at this time and blend.
While blending you need to start incorporating the olive oil at this point, in a slow but steady stream.
Stop the food processor and add cheese, salt and pepper. Blend again and then taste for seasonings. Add more salt an pepper if it is needed. I remember while attending Culinary school, I was asked by one of my chef instructors: Did you forgot your salt extractor today? You can always add more of any ingredient, but you can not take it out!
Remove all of the pesto from the food processor, and hold until you are finished. I will put it into a container that I can keep in the refrigerator, so I will have it for a week or two. And that way you are not continually transferring to many bowls to clean.
I would add my pasta to the boiling water at this point and prep the rest of my ingredients at this point. If I were going to add a salad with this dish I would get if made at this point. It will not take long to wash your lettuce and get ingredients ready for dinner with your family.
I like to add artichokes, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes to this dish just to give it some flare. I also take some extra pine nuts, and roast them to add them to the finished dish as well. To roast your pine nuts you can do it in a over or over a stove top burner. You just have to watch them to make sure they do not get too much color. They will taste very bitter, or burned if this happens. You can add any ingredient to your pasta dish that you prefer. I am sure some Kalamata black olives would be tasty on this dish as well. This is what makes it your dish, every ones taste buds are a little different. If you are wanting to have a special dinner for loved ones or guests. You can offer them a wide variety of ingredients to add to there own dish in the center of the table. It will make them feel very special, and offer them the ingredients to make it their own dish.
The pasta is probably ready to be drained at this point. Do not wash the pasta, and return it to the same pan. I would start to add in some of the pesto starting with 2-3 tablespoons and turn the pasta with tongs if you have them to mix in the pesto. Continue until the desired amount of pesto is on the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste and then serve.
If you are not concerned about the fat content: Then go from step 7 to step 9 In a separate bowl add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to the the 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the, add the 2 Tbsp of pesto and mix. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. Put the pasta back into the same pan and pour the cream pesto mixture into the pot and turn with a wooden spoon of tongs. Make sure there is a good covering of the mixture on the desired pasta. You can also add more cheese at this point if you so desire.
Set the table and get ready to dig in. After I put the portion on to my plate I would then add my artichokes, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts. Or you can put yours on a nice serving platter in the middle of the table with a piece of basil garnish and everyone can serve themselves.
I hope that you enjoy this dish. Making a basil pesto sauce is very easy and it taste great. I hope that you will find those ingredients that you really love and incorporate them into this dish to call it you own.
Chef Shelley Pogue is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate from The Texas Culinary Academy located in Austin, Texas. Chef Pogue graduated with honors of cum laude with a GPA of 3.71. Shelley went to work for The Hills Fitness Center in Westlake Hills after graduation and stayed the for one year as the Executive Chef. She then left The Hills and went to work for a company Vertical Sales and Marketing, San Ramon, CA. CHef Pogue is currently developing sauces and meal concepts for large retail markets in the US. Chef Pogue lives in Austin, TX, and is also a personal chef and caterer, and also working on developing a recipe and cook book.