Homemade Basil Pesto ~ Chopping it Old School

As an absolute food junkie, I'm embarrassed to say that I have only had pesto one other time in my life (besides today). A good friend brought us a tasty pesto pasta right after my son was born. I remember it was good, but that was all I remembered. Oh what a lack of sleep can do to a person!

But with Basil staring at me in the garden, and visions of Italy swarming my brain, I knew it was time to taste it again! I like making things at home so I know what's inside. Here are the ingredients I put in our pesto:

As many of you know, I've been saving up my swagbucks to get a food processor. I haven't reached that goal yet, but I'm getting close. How does someone make pesto without a food processor? This is where the old school chopping comes in. People have been making pesto for years, right? Surely they must have made it without a food processor. So I grabbed a sharp knife and started chopping:

I'm a rustic kind of girl, and I think chopping it by hand added to it. I am by no means great with a knife, and I had quite a variety of sized pieces in my final pesto, giving the pesto extra dimension and texture. I liked it. Clearly, I was overzealous with the amount of pine nuts. I was limited to the amount of basil in the garden, so I should have decreased the amount of pine nuts I used. Next time...more basil. It tasted great but I expected more green, if you know what I mean.

Here is the final result of our homemade chicken penne pesto pasta.

Want a quick recipe? I don't often measure, so here's a rough estimate:
A big bunch of Basil leaves (just the leaves, maybe 4 or 5 big handfuls)
3 Cloves of Garlic
A small handful of pine nuts
1/2-3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Grab a sharp knife. Chop your garlic and basil first. Then slowly work in the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Once it's all chopped up (think minced), form it into square (think block of cheese, but squishy). Put that into a bowl and add a little olive oil to cover it. If your sauce isn't the consistency you want, add some pasta water (full of all the pasta nutrients) to the pesto until it looks how you want it. Then add your cooked noodles and/or meat. Then eat!

Your kitchen will smell like fresh basil for hours! If only I could eat the air...you so know I would!


Emelie said...

That looks really yummy! I too have only had pesto once and really liked it, and thought I could make that!~ Have I? Ummm not yet. But it sounds like a wonderful thing to try this week!

Annie V. said...

Pesto is truly wonderful - I agree! and chopping by hand makes it really rustic. I'm going to try that.

For adventurous pesto lovers - try substituting PISTACHIOS for the pignoli/pine nuts. We think it's wonderful. Pistachios seem to be a little oilier and have a wonderful taste and are also green, and the taste seems more intense. We like a light dusting of Parmesan on the pasta after we toss it with the pesto.

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