Classic pesto is made with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, olive oil, lemon, garlic, and salt.
Pesto is the traditional pasta sauce. Pesto is also a flavorful addition to grilled vegetables, grilled chicken, salads, sliced tomatoes, pizza, bean and vegetable soup, and as a vegetable dip.
Pesto—which is essentially a pureed herbal mixture—can also be made with cilantro or tarragon.
For a less oily pesto, substitute orange juice for the olive oil.
This recipe will make about 1½ cups.
Ingredients for Basil Pesto
- 1 cup loosely packed basil
- 1 or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese or shredded romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons walnuts or pine nuts lightly roasted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil
- A squeeze or two of lemon juice
Directions to Make Classic Basil Pesto
- Peel and slice the garlic and put it in a large mortar. (The garlic should flavor the pesto not overwhelm the basil.) Add a pinch of salt and nuts and pound the mixture to paste.
- Add the basil leaves to the garlic and nuts and continue pounding and grinding the leaves until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the cheese and continue pounding as you gradually add the oil. Add more oil or less oil depending on the thickness desired. Alternatively, you can whirl all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
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