I received a very nice e-mail today, in which it was noted that I seem to love my pasta.

Guilty as charged.

In this vein, as well as the fact that this recipe is Ligurian in its history, it seemed only appropriate to post a decent pesto recipe.

Pesto is said to be the oldest sauce on the planet, a claim which I neither agree nor disagree with. It is named after its method of preparation: pestatura (grinding) of leaves and other ingredients with mortar and pestle. Which is to say, if the sauce were made today, it’d be called a Processo, after the grinding of leaves and other ingredients with a food processor.

However, there are those who claim that mortar and pestle is the only way to go. The old pestle in wood squashed the leaves, destroying the fibres, thanks to the rotating movement given by the wrist of the person preparing the sauce. Thus “smeared” the basil gave up all its flavour.

Today’s modern food mixers, when they cut the leaves, block the ends of the veins and prevent their flavour from being released; added to this there is the heat produced by the high speed of the blades, which causes the aromatic oils to evaporate and alter.

I do not know how true this is, but should be at least considered when making pesto. Unless you’re a bit lazy, like myself, and head straight to the mixer.

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 ounces of basil, with stems
  • 4 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

Pulse the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until they are well combined and have formed a bit of a nutty paste. Salt, to taste.

Add a handfull of basil at a time, pulsing it into the paste. Continue this process until you have added all of the basil.

Pour basil into a mixing bowl, and whisk in the add the Parmesan cheese. Whisk the olive oil, pouring the oil in slowly. You can add a bit of the oil in at a time if needed.

To use, add to pasta in a large pasta bowl after pasta has completed cooking.

Serves 4

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