Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Proper Pesto

There are lots of recipes people claim taste better if made by hand, but there’s no easier case to prove than pesto. That the name means, “to crush,” should tell you something, and while this method does take considerably more physical effort, when you taste this you’ll forget every pestle-pounding minute.

The intensity of the flavors is beyond compare, and as if by some kind of magic, this gorgeous spread develops an addictive spiciness. You can taste each ingredient, and yet when smashed together, new and wonderful flavors are released. If you’re in the market, I recommend the marble mortar seen herein, as long as the inside has some texture to it. If it seems smooth and glassy, keep looking.

Of course, you can play around with the ratios of the five ingredients, and easily adjust this to your tastes, but no matter how they’re combined, taking the time to crush them by hand is well worth the effort. I hope you give this fresh basil pesto a try soon. Enjoy!


4 cloves garlic peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large bunch basil (about 4-5 ounces)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on microplace (about 1 1/2 cups unpacked)
1/2 cup mild extra virgin olive oil

42 comments:

SimoneDonohue said...

Hi Chef John,

I was wondering if you know if garlic from the US is less flavourful/strongly flavoured than from other places (like Europe and Australia)? When I make pesto with an American chef's recipe I have found I need to at least half the amount of garlic otherwise it is overpoweringly garlicy.

Thanks,
Simone

S Spencer said...

Looks amazing! What breads/toast pair best with this?

Brycen C said...

Hey John! What size mortar do you use and do you recommend buying it from a specific place? Thanks!

Inigo Montoya said...

How do you feel about blanching the basil before adding it to the mortar? I've seen it done in order to "preserve the color of the basil," but is it really necessary?

Inigo Montoya said...

How do you feel about blanching the basil before adding it to the mortar? I've seen it done in order to preserve the color of the basil, but is it really necessary?

Chris said...

Chef, just started watching your YouTube channel and I really enjoy it. Thank you for your hard work. It is appreciated. Today's video really jumped out at me as my late girlfriend and I used to make pesto all the time. We even started to grow Basil so we could more frequently. I really like the mortar and pestle method you use. If I may, I have two questions. I have a stone mortar and pestle. Would this not be as effective as marble? Too...many grooves and such? Also, after we started growing our own we were informed when the plant flowered the flavor was bitter so we started ensuring flowering didn't happen. You stated it would just be more intense. So have I been destroying better pesto by making sure the plant does not flower? Thank you for your time, Chris Pinkerton

Simple Life Homestead said...

Amazing. This is exactly how pesto should be! Once you go homemade on pesto, you never, ever go back.

Sometimes prepare it using a mezzaluna for a super chunky version. I need to do it with my mortar and pestle, though! Thanks, as always, for sharing your knowledge.

A non-recipe technical question:
How do you do the voiceovers for your recipes? Do you record first, then record the narration? Do you have a script? Do you do all the editing yourself? As a new YouTuber, I tried doing a similar method for my video on making sourdough, and it was HARD. I have immense respect for the beautiful, professional videos you're making here!!

Simple Life Homestead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C Lange said...

What size mortar and pestle do you recommend?

Handymanowar Machete said...

Thank you cheff about this hermatically great recipe of such a a great sauce that represent the italian heritage.
Yours
Fahad

Handymanowar Machete said...

Thank you cheff about this hermatically great recipe of such a great sauce that represent the italian heritage.
Yours,
Fahad.

Beth and family said...

I was going to order that beautiful olive wood one like u have. Will this one work for pesto?

Richard Cheese said...

How long will uneaten pesto keep?

Karen said...

Thank you! Have you/would you do a video on different types of oils? Thanks! Your videos are great!

Robert Prichard said...

Hi Chef John, I want to buy a good mortar and pestle. How wide do you think I should go? Is a 4.5" M+P big enough you think?

Michael Slavenko said...

How long will this keep in the fridge?

Sara Jandolenko said...

I would like to know where you get your basil in such quantity. Even at the big giant international grocery store near me I can only find the pre packaged kind. I even went to home depot and bought some plants( which I then potted) for one of your other recipies. Thank you for teaching me new cooking techniques with every video, it's really upped my home cooking game.

Brad Piper said...

Awesome! Can you do a video on Chicago Deep Dish?

Christi said...

Looks delicious, chef! What size mortar did you use, please?

Tom Matthies said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Matthies said...

Hey there,

I truly enjoyed your video for this recipe and may soon try it myself. One question, though: Why don't you roast the pine nuts? Is there a special reason to it or is it just your personal taste?

Greetings from Germany,

Tom.

Unknown said...

Chef John, I have a pestle that looks like yours, but I don't think I could get near as much Basil, etc., inside mine. Can you specify the volume or size of yours? Looking forward to trying this.

Elizabeth said...

Why do you prefer raw to toasted pine nuts? Does the toasting detract from the flavor you're going for?

AR V said...

You do mean microplane not microplace. Sorry. This is a great method to show, my grandmother did it this way.

tianda said...

Hi Chef!

Can you send a link to the mortar and pestle you use?

Rayra said...

What size is that mortar and pestle? I have been thinking of getting one and now I have the perfect reason!

Leela Gupta said...

What was the name of that olive oil you mentioned? Could you write it out so it's easier to find? Thanks.

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John,
What are the specifications for your mortar and pestle? I'm looking at several (I had actually been wanting to get one for my husband's birthday anyway). Many seem really heavy (12-15 lbs) for a 2-3 cup capacity. What capacity do you recommend for a home cook?

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John,
What are the specifications for your mortar and pestle? I'm looking at several (I had actually been wanting to get one for my husband's birthday anyway). Many seem really heavy (12-15 lbs) for a 2-3 cup capacity. What capacity do you recommend for a home cook?

Courtney Blush said...

Hi Chef John!!

Your video posts are amazing, my wifey and I watch at least 5 of your videos a day and are looking forwards to trying some of them soon.

Being in the U.K., the one thing I miss from my travels to the U.S.A. are Corn Dogs.

Do you have a recipe (used search but didn't find anything) for this classic American Favourite please?

So yeah, my Food Wish is Genuine American Corn Dogs...

Kindest Wishes and Enjoy...

Courtney & Khryssy (huge Fans)

Nikita said...

Chef John! First off, you are awesome.
With all due respect, a quick question here :
Have you considered implementing some of the new blogger templates to your blog, because right now a revamp could be just amazing. Seriously. Please! I would even be willing to help. Or not, if you prefer. Its just that I like aesthetic things (especially on point blogs).

Darrell said...

What's my food wish? Germany Style Doner Kebab, best thing I've ever had and I haven't been able to find any suitable or anything even NEAR it in taste. The Doner Kebab you get in Germany. Very unique.

Michael Chester said...

I prefer to do this with crumbled parmesan rather than grated - some of it is still smooshed into the sauce, but it gives you little chunks of delicious salty savoury cheesiness within the pesto, which is just amazing!

Mary Murfin said...

Just made this with basil from the garden. I threw in a bit of fresh mint too since it is growing so quickly. This method sure beats out the food processor method. Thanks again Chef Jon!

Unknown said...

Woo! Another appearance of the freakishly small spoon!

Cliff and Sherri said...

Ordered a mortar and pestle just to make this recipe!!! My wife loves pesto, but she makes the blender kind- I can take it or leave it. If I never had it again, I wouldn't miss it, but this method sounds so intriguing maybe it will convert me!

roth phallyka said...

Looks delicious, chef! What size mortar did you use, please?


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Laura Harmon said...

That bread looks wonderful.

Chris said...

Chef John. I asked two questions earlier and I would appreciate your thoughts when you have a moment. I guess the mortar question isn't that important; I just need to try it. However, I am very concerned I have not been properly taking care of the basil and that was my more important question. Have I been wasting basil because I was throwing it away when it flowers because we were told it got bitter, not more intense? Thank you for your time, Chris Pinkerton

NaRong said...

Hi Chef John, I want to buy a good mortar and pestle. How wide do you think I should go? Is a 4.5" M+P big enough you think?
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beemo said...

I just made this pesto using most of the leaves of the basil plant I've been growing all summer, plus raw pine nuts, parmesano reggiano, etc. My marble mortar is really too small so I made half the recipe and still barely managed -- but it worked and it's amazing.

I sat on the balcony shirtless under the blazing sun and mortared and sweated and earned my vitamin D. Thanks again CJ

beemo said...

Narong,

I have a 3" M+P and it was barely big enough to make half this pesto recipe. 4.5" would be ideal, I'm pretty sure, and I'm willing to bet that's what Chef John is using in the video.