Mother Earth Living

A Basil Harvest: Italian-Style Pesto

By Thomas DeBaggio and Susan Belsinger
August/September 1996
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Makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough to dress 1 pound of dry pasta or about 1 1/2 pounds fresh pasta

When tossing hot pasta with pesto, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta water to thin the pesto so that it covers the pasta evenly.

• 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 4 cups basil leaves
• Salt
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine the garlic and pine nuts in a large mortar and crush them with the pestle to a smooth paste. Add the basil, a handful at a time, crushing the leaves against the sides of the mortar. The mixture should resemble a coarse, thick paste.

2. Add a few pinches of salt. Stir in the cheese. Drizzle the oil in, a bit at a time, and work it in with the pestle. The pesto should become very smooth. After most of the oil has been added, taste for seasoning and adjust with a little more oil, cheese, or salt.

Note: To make this pesto in a food processor, place the garlic, pine nuts, basil, a few pinches salt, and a few tablespoons oil in the mixing bowl. Process until mixed. Add the cheese and most of the remaining oil and process until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust with a little more oil, cheese, or salt.


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