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Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by 14 yr oldchef, Mar 5, 2014.
Hey everyone, I need help. How do you make a pesto, everyone makes them for pasta. Are they good?
Yes, it is good. Start with a standard Pesto Genovese.
Fresh basil pesto
Fresh basil pesto
Here's a detailed recipe using a food processor: http://www.cheftalk.com/a/pesto-v3-0
But if @eastshores visits this topic, maybe he can share the real technique, using a mortar and pestle!
Well to me pesto means fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese(that's sheep's milk cheese, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Any ground paste of fresh herbs is often called pesto now though. I've heard of mint pesto and even cilantro. Pesto is good as long as you like the herb its based on.
I make it pretty thick because we eat it more as a spread on bread and crackers than as a sauce on pasta.
I cheat and use the food processor too. I grow lots of basil just to make pesto. I grind the basil and freeze. It is not as bright green but still tasty. Tried freezing the pesto but think its better to add the other ingredients fresh.. I make pesto pizza so it doesn't matter much that its darker.
Sometimes "traditional" pesto can be a little thick/heavy for me. Add some cream to take it down. There are many variations for pesto ranging from sun-dried tomatoes to artichokes & lemon. Sub the pine nuts for pistachios or hazelnuts or walnuts. Vary the herbs. Have fun with it.
Pesto can be anything, not just the basil version mostly used. My favorite pesto is made with walnuts, sundried tomatoes and pecorino cheese.
I can't resists @French Fries ! Also, I didn't just watch a show on how old Italian women make basil pesto and come to this conclusion, I have tried to use a food processor and compared results. It boils down to the amount of flavor that can be extracted with cutting vs. crushing.
The high speed blades on a food processor cut the basil, pine nuts, and garlic into tiny pieces but all three of those important ingredients hold their powerful flavors in oils. By cutting rather than crushing, much of those oils remains trapped in those tiny pieces. When crushed, the oils release and are able to permeate the olive oil. The result is an astoundingly flavorful product.
I don't make pesto when I'm in a hurry. I think that is the real trade off of using a food processor, it is MUCH faster. Even with my large mortar and pestle if I had to make a half gallon of pesto.. it would probably take me 4 hours. But I would say the amount of flavor is close to 2 to 1 compared to what I have done using a food processor.
Hobby linguist interlude: "Pesto" comes from "pestare" - to pound, to crush. Which, of course, stems from the same root as "pestle", namely proto-indoeuropean *peis- "to crush". So get those mortars and pestles out, folks