What’s in Your Pesto?

I’ve been following a fun little strand of conversation over on the Guardian’s new food blog. It concerns the joys of fresh basil and how you can enjoy it.

Obviously one of the main topics is pesto – the pasta salvation for many a parent. Our kids would happily eat pesto every single night and we’re happy to make it not least because you can knock up a great pesto sauce in about 15 minutes.

But this is where things start getting contentious. To save time, we mix the basil, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan and (yes) a little bit of garlic in a mini food processor. The result is a roughly chopped sauce that has the right consistency for the kids to wolf down without complaining of any chewy bits.

Imagine my dismay then to read one blog commenter from Umbria expressing outrage that the steel blades of a food chopper would ever tarnish the taste of fresh basil leaves. A mortar and pestle (hence the pesto apparently) is the only way to truly release the flavor of the basil.

Okay, so I knew that was the case with mint and mojitos but I guess our house has been embracing expedience over craft all these years  when it comes to pesto.

How do you make yours?

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5 Responses to What’s in Your Pesto?

  1. Gretchen says:

    I basically use a recipe like what you descibed above, put everything in the food processor but instead of oil, I put in 3/4 cup of 1.5% plain yogurt. I do saute the garlic in a bit of olive oil, so that’s in there too. The yogurt really helps the sauce sink into the pasta in a creamy way is fresh with a little tang, not heavy at all. It also tastes great cold.
    My kids really love this version, and I like not having all the oil.

  2. matthew says:

    That sounds great – I’m going to give it a try

  3. Sharon says:

    We make it with olive oil, garlic, salt, basil and sometimes other herbs in the food processor and then freeze it in small quantities. We then add parmesan as needed when we mix the pasta with the pesto. A mortar and pestle may be great but not an option for every day use.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Just found your site via a Kindermusik blog. LOVE IT! With a 3.5 yr old and a 7 month old, I’m very appreciative to have found other foodies who don’t force boring, bland food on their kids. My daughter (7 mo) had curried pasta with pear, tomato, & cilantro tonight!
    But with regards to the pesto… I didn’t have pine nuts one night, so used pistachios instead. It was really good, and I’ve done it on purpose many times since then!
    As for the pestle – I’ve got two decorating the stovetop. Haven’t used them to grind anything but cumin seeds in about…oh 3.5 years!

  5. meg says:

    We use toased walnuts or almonds, because those pine nuts are pricey. And I often throw some spiniach in to stretch it a bit and because my daughter won’t each spiniach, but will eat pesto with a spoon. And Marcella Hazan taught me to stir the grated cheese in after everything is done–either in your food processor or (if you don’t have kids) your morter and pestle. Somehow this makes it taste better.

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