The best pesto is made with a mortar and pestle. But if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, a food processor or VitaMix blender will work just fine.
The other major factor when making pesto is tasting it. Your basil won’t taste exactly like my basil. Neither will your olive oil. You may need more of something or less of another thing. Taste it. Smell it. Savor it. What does your heart tell you?
Pesto is simple really. Just a few ingredients. The key is the quality of your ingredients, and of course this is true with everything you make.
Basil Pesto: Ingredients
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black peppercorn
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or if you want extra zest, use my favorite PrimalOil blend)
Basil Pesto: Instructions
If you’re using a mortar, start with the pine nuts and garlic if that’s easier for you, and then add the basil leaves a little at time. Then the cheese, salt and pepper. Take it slow. Enjoy the experience. Drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time, and continue to grind everything into a paste. Once you’ve added everything, taste it. What does it need? A little more salt? Little more pepper? It’s up to you. :)
If you’re using a food processor, pulse the pine nuts and garlic a few times, then add the basil, cheese, salt, and pepper. Pulse a couple more times, then turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl if needed. Once the pesto has completely combined and has a nice texture, taste it. Decide if it needs anymore of anything and adjust as needed.
Basil Pesto: Notes
Remember how I mentioned the importance of quality ingredients? I wanted to take a moment and share with you where I get mine.
Did you know that the Mob makes money hand over fist by selling you fake olive oil? Olive oil is a $1.5 billion industry in the United States alone. According to Tom Mueller, an intrepid journalist who wrote a scandalously revealing book on the subject, 70% of the extra virgin olive oil sold is adulterated — cut with cheaper oils. Apparently, the mob’s been at it so long, that even most so-called “experts” can’t tell a real olive oil from a fake olive oil based on taste alone.Food Renegade: Your Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is FAKE
It’s a well-documented fact that Costco carries some of the highest quality organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the United States. And it’s REAL olive oil. In addition to being some of the highest quality, it’s also incredibly affordable, as it’s under the Kirkland brand. P.S. You can get high quality pine nuts (at a great price!) at Costco, too.
If you’re a sucker for amazing food (like me), and you appreciate mind-blowing ingredients, then you should really get your hands on some Pure Indian Foods PrimalOil. It’s a blend of organic extra virgin olive oil, black seed oil, and sacha inchi oil. Black seed oil is made from Nigella sativa, which is SUPER good for you and tastes kind of peppery and kind of like oregano. Tons of zest! Sacha inchi oil is made from the sacha inchi nut, which, well, tastes nutty! Since I was introduced to this unique blend, I’ve almost used it exclusively when a recipe calls for olive oil. The zest and flavor in this blend is incredible.
Pure Indian Foods also stocks some of the world’s rarest black peppercorns: Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold (TGSEB). These peppercorns are hand-selected from ripe, late-harvest pepper berries. They are graded by size, as well as color, and only ten percent of the entire crop is chosen as the TGSEB variety each year. Due to the maturity of the berry when harvested, the taste of the extra bold peppercorn is warmer and more nutty in flavor compared to ordinary black pepper, with a slightly more intense peppery zing. The aroma is both citrusy, as well as reminiscent of tea and sandalwood. It is quite literally an experience to taste one of these peppercorns. Because the Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold Peppercorn is so extraordinary the flavor is best expressed when ground fresh. Buy it here.