Pesto is a sauce that originated in Northern Italy (Genoa, Liguria) made using fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and parmesan. A subtle but cracking sauce which has become very popular over the years, used to quickly toss up any kind of pasta or even used as sandwich spreads. It is also available as ready to use sauce in most stores. There are variations of the Pesto sauce by substituting different ingredients, such as Cashew or Walnuts instead of Pine Nuts, Rocket or Aragula instead or along with Basil, with or without garlic etc.
Now this is a very delicate sauce and typically should not be mixed or combined with other stronger flavors or ingredients which overpower it’s flavor. It is typically paired with simple sides such as potatoes tossed in basil pesto and/or rosemary or simple garlic or bread.
How to make the Pesto ?
Ingredients (Serves 1)
Fresh Basil Leaves : A large handful, cleaned, de-stalked and dried.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil : Lots of it, as much as you like it. Maybe 2 Tbsp to half a cup.
Garlic : 2-3 crushed pods or you can skip it if you don’t like it.
Parmesan : Grated/Shavings about 2 tablespoons
Walnuts or Cashewnuts or Pinenuts : A small handful (5-6)
Salt : Just to taste.
Mix all of it in a blender or food processor and make into a coarse paste/sauce. Add enough EVOO so that it glistens with the oil. Keep aside. Can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days or in the freezer for a couple of weeks. But I would recommend that you make it fresh every-time for best and fresh flavors.
How to make the Spaghetti Al Pesto ?
Boil pasta with a little salt and olive oil to al dente, drain and keep aside.
Add the pesto in to the cooked pasta and mix well so that it coats the pasta all over.
Add more EVOO if needed, so that it is coated well.
That’s it…you are done 🙂
Top it up with some parmesan shavings and a couple of fresh basil leaves when you serve it.
How to make the Pesto Rosemary Potatoes ?
Boil peeled, diced (slightly large bite-sized pieces) potatoes with salt. Drain and keep aside.
Take a non stick pan, add some olive oil and toss the potatoes in.
Add a teaspoon of the pesto and rosemary into it. You can add some crushed or powdered garlic too if you like it.
Mix well and sauté for about a minute or two until the potatoes just start to have a golden brown crust. Take it off the heat and serve a side with the pasta.
There…How easy is that? 🙂
As I mentioned, you can try to experiment with the Pesto sauce by changing the ingredients. I’ve made a Rocket Pesto using Aragula instead of Basil. Has a more punchy flavor compared to Basil pesto.