Thursday, November 5, 2009

Perfect Pesto

I'm a pesto person and I promise that this pesto recipe is perfect and .

Just a handful of ingredients and a food processor make pesto a snap and it really amps up a boring pasta routine.  I also really like it on shrimp or salmon, or in a perfect world, pesto pasta with shrimp. 

The thing that annoys me is that pesto is so simple that I can't quite understand why it is so often bad when I order it at restaurants.  In fact, I rarely order it anymore because I am so often disappointed.  No more pathetic pesto pastas for me - I'm doing it at home!

Go to your pantry and grab: 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1 cup (or so) of lightly packed basil, and your handy kosher salt.  

The main ingredient you need is some fresh basil.  Nowadays I just but a basil plant at Trader Joe's instead of buying a packaged bunch.  It literally costs the same ($2.99) and if you can manage to keep the plant alive, you get at least a couple of servings of basil out of it.  

Pine nuts are the only somewhat obscure ingredient in pesto, but you can actually use other nuts (such as walnuts or almonds) if you have those lying around.  I buy the toasted pine nuts at Trader Joe's (What is with me today?  I'm a nonstop Trader Joe's advertisement.) because they aren't ridiculously expensive like they can be at other stores. 

Here's ye olde food processor stuffed with basil.  Quite a good start, if you ask me.

Throw in everything but the kitchen sink, and by kitchen sink I mean olive oil.  So to your food processor add 1 cup lightly packed basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, and a dash of kosher salt.

Now turn on your lil food processor and let it do its magic until a thick paste if formed. 

One last step and your are done-zo!  Slowly add in your 1/3 cup olive oil while the food processor is running.  This will thin out the pesto and it will become the delicious sauce it was destined to be.

This is what it looks like all smoothed out.  It's more green in person though, not sure why the color is off here. 

The recipe makes enough pesto for two people to have large portions - i.e on enough angel hair for two people. 

If you're like me and you're making pesto angel hair with shrimp, I strongly recommend you throw the cooked pasta and shrimp into a pot and then throw in the pesto.  Pesto needs some serious mixing in order to fully coat the pasta.  You don't want to be messing around in your dinner plate with this.  Trust me, it isn't pretty. 

See how the shrimp and angel hair and completely covered with pesto?  Aren't you glad you did it in a separate pot?  This meal is a definite favorite in our house.  We often use whole wheat spaghetti too, because clearly that makes it health food.

Other news from our house tonight - John went running with Maddie and she managed to hurt herself on a curb.  We fashioned these bandages on her legs out of paper towels and masking tape.  Yes, I am serious.  She kind of reminds me of a horse with them on.  John says they look like leg warmers.

So to conclude.  Pesto.  Good.  Dogs with paper towel bandages.  Bad. 

Perfect Pesto
1 cup basil leaves, lightly packed
1 garlic clove

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil

In a food processor, puree 1 cup basil leaves, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and kosher salt until a thick paste forms.  While food processor is running, slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil to form a thinner sauce.  Serve with whatever you please - pasta, shrimp, tomatoes, etc.  Enjoy!


  1. Would the pesto gods be angry with me if I left the mixture a little thicker and used it as a dip/spread on crusty french bread?

  2. I think that would be acceptable.


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