If you've ever tried pesto in Italy you know that pesto here in the United States is not exactly the same. I received a lesson on how to make pesto from a real Italian grandmother last week and now I understand the difference and what makes this pesto recipe so special.
A special pesto
My girlfriend, Francesca, makes the trip from her small town near the pest-centered of Genoa, Italy to San Francisco once or twice a year – this time (lucky for us) she brought her mom and her son Mattia two years old. Her mother made a beautiful pesto (and completely light, gnocchi potatoes to go with it) and offered to show me and my friend Jen how to make it. I have to say, it was a complete game change. If you love pesto, you really need to try it. Her technique results in one unbelievable special pesto.
Cut by hand or blender?
Most of the pesto you find here in the US differs for a few reasons. First of all, most of what you see is made of a machine, usually a food processor or a hand blender. This is true even if it is homemade. Don't get me wrong, it usually tastes good, but because the ingredients are not chopped by hand you end up with a texture that looks more like a liquid paste and there is little or no definition between the ingredients.
During my lesson I quickly began to realize that all ingredients are chopped by hand and that mixing them is not the key because this prevents the ingredients from becoming a fully homogenized emulsion or paste. When you cook a pasta with a hand-sprinkled bread the tiny basil pieces will be separated from the olive oil in the parts, you will have the definition between the ingredients and the flavors will look like they don't when mixed in. one.
Choosing the Right Basil
Another thing, the Genovese pesto is famous in part because it is often made with small, small basil leaves. For us non-Italians, it is easy to find royal Genovese in the shops and markets of farmers especially in summer, but the chances are not that young. I wouldn't worry too much, just by hand cutting all your ingredients, you'll see a significant change in your pesto's personality. If you grow your own royal, I'm jealous.
If you are serious about making a good pesto using this technique, get a good, sharp (preferably large, single blade) lace, or a good knife – you will need it. Cutting the ingredients will take about twenty minutes. Whatever you use to cut, make sure it has a sharp blade or the basil will go out. Once you have cut your ingredients, you will form them into a cake, pictured above. You can add olive oil to this cake, and it is magical – down.
How to Save Pesto |
Store any pesto that you can use the next day or two, cooling, under a thin film of olive oil. You can also freeze it in snack-sized baggies. Defrost and drop any goccas or pasta you like.
Let me know if you try this and what you think! Use your beautiful fresh pesto with this gnocchi recipe. Tutto do it!