The Best Pesto
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 8
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted to very light brown
- 1 large bunch basil, stems and veins removed, washed and dried thoroughly
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pulse garlic in food processor until finely chopped. Add nuts and pulse a few times just to break them into pieces. Scrape the bowl to loosen anything stuck to the sides.
Pile in all of the basil. Pour half of the oil over the leaves, and pulse until basil is medium chopped (pieces about the size of cooked rice). Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Using a plastic spatula or a wooden spoon, fold in the Parmigiano cheese; season with salt and pepper, and thin to sauce consistency with the remaining olive oil. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week, in the freezer for up to 2 months. When using frozen pesto, do not thaw, but break off what you need from a frozen block.
Practical Pasta Picking
Certain shapes work best with certain sauces and garnishes. For thin brothy sauces, concave shapes like conchiglie (small shells) and orecchiette (“little ears”) scoop up flavorful sauce with every bite. They also work best for dishes with small garnishes like peas or chopped vegetables. Longer pastas, which have plenty of surface area to adhere to, are right for thicker sauces, which will stick to long strands of spaghetti or linguine.