Pesto comes from the Italian verb pestare, meaning to pound or crush, which, in the era of food processors may seem like an unexpected thing to name my favorite recipe to make in a blender. But in fact, pesto has been made with a mortar and pestle for thousands of years, and traditionally with an “uncouth” amount of garlic. This isn’t a recipe where you have to sit and smash everything together – though you can if you want to. It’s pretty quick, and the results are delicate and lovely.
Please try this in it’s simplest form. Just Pesto, some pasta, and maybe a dusting of cheese on top. Enjoy!
INGREDIENTS (ALMOND PESTO)
1/4 cup finely grated parm, plus more
2 tablespoons almonds
1/2 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves (about 2 bunches)
1/4 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
pasta, cooked per manufacturers directions
For bright green pesto that never goes brown, try blanching your basil in boiling water for 8 to 10 seconds, then shocking it in ice water. Dry the basil completely with paper towels before popping in the food processor.
For a super creamy pesto, try soaking your almonds in water overnight, then straining them before putting them in the food processor.
In a food processor (or with a mortar and pestle), combine the cheese, almonds, garlic, and a big pinch of kosher salt. Puree until a thick paste forms, and the almonds are completely broken down. Then add the basil and blend together, drizzling in the olive oil bit by bit, until desired consistency.
Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente, strain into a warm bowl (don’t rinse!) and immediately add the pesto. Dress quickly, top with tons of parm and if you’re into it, a bit of butter. Serve immediately.