Photos by David Escalante
I'm so proud to announce that I, ardent basil and pesto lover, finally made my own pesto--by hand--no food processor, nothing jarred, canned, or preserved. Just me, my basil, pine nuts, garlic, and freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese on a cutting board with a sharp knife. It was actually really fun, not to mention a great work out!
The other day at our weekly farmer's market, I simply could not pass through the produce aisle without snagging up a big bunch of basil for $1. The heady aroma of basil was calling me all the way from the other end of the market. So, I told myself that if I was going to buy that much basil, then I better have a good idea of what I was going to do with it, because, let's face it--basil does not last long in the refrigerator and I hate throwing out produce that has gone bad before being used. Pesto seemed to be the obvious answer to my quest and I had been pondering trying my hand at it for a while now.
I searched the internet for a recipe and it really bothers me when I can't follow the recipe and all the recipes I saw called for dumping everything into a food processor. I don't own a food processor and the idea of giving my blender a go at it just wasn't working for me. Luckily, I found this How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother Recipe which called for chopping everything by hand (I'm a rule follower, so I was very happy to find a recipe that I could follow the rules by). It was amazing! David said that I actually did look like an Italian grandmother when I was making it and he kept making cracks about that when we devoured our pesto covered pasta tonight.
All in all, a super fun experience and its true what the author of 101 Cookbooks claimed, hand chopped was much much better. You definitely get to enjoy the different textures, ingredients, and flavors more than you would with the usual blended-to-kingdom-come version.
Oh! Side note: "Garlic, Garlic, and a Bit of Basil," refers to our dinner which consisted of very garlicky garlic bread along with our garlicky pesto pasta among other things...