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Jul 29, 2005 10:23 AM

Sweet basil pesto recipe (and best pasta for pesto)

  • t

Dear All,

A friend is dropping off some home grown sweet basil today and I have a hankering for pesto. I know the basic drill (basil, evoo, parm-reg, pine nuts, garlic) but I can;t for my life remember/find the propertions of each ingredient.

Also, what is the best kind of pasta to HOLD the pesto.


p.s. what about wine? (white, red, varietal?)

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  1. This is an estimate - from my memory, from Marcella -

    2 cups basil, packed
    1/3 cup olive oil
    2 gloves garlic
    3 T pine nuts

    1/2 cup parmesan
    2 T pecorino

    It's really the olive oil I'm not quite sure of - so maybe add gradually and add more if you need to.

    I use spaghetti.

    12 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I love pesto on ravioli and tortellini. Also add a little to some mayo for a great spread on a grilled veggie sandwich.

      1. re: ctmom

        Amen to the ravioli and tortellini, though I love it on spaghetti and linguini, too. It's also great with beans - use it to dress a bean salad, or put a big dollop in a bowl of bean soup. You can also beat it up with some sour cream and cream cheese to make a great party dip.

        The first clam sauce anyone served me was basically pesto with minced clams added, and that's still my favorite. The Italian purists will scream and shout about any combination of cheese and seafood, but I prefer to listen to my own tastebuds...

        1. re: Will Owen

          I'll throw in my favorite: curly pasta. All the little edges catch a whole lotta sauce!

          I also used pesto in a green salad last night. I just put a little warm water in the pesto to thin it out, then poured it over some mixed greens. Delish!

          Also, FWIW, I find that making pesto in a food processor is much better than a blender. Both work, but you're much more likely to get a soupy sauce if you use a blender. With a processor, it's easier to get a thick, chunky paste with some texture. Have fun! Sweet basil is really wonderful right now.


          1. re: nooodles

            I find a salad dressing mix that works well for pesto is 1/3 pesto, 1/3 EVOO, and 1/3 white balsamic vinegar...


          2. re: Will Owen

            I was surprised to see grilled mussels in a pesto sauce on an Italian menu recently and had to try them - the combination was outstanding. Pesto thinned with oil and either clam juice or liquid from the mussels made it a soupy sauce excellent for sopping up with bread.

            Just made a batch of pesto the other day and can't wait to make pesto clam sauce! Thanks for the great idea.

            1. re: JRL

              If you use canned clams (and they work very well, if you get decent ones), drain them - even squeeze them a bit - and add about a small lemon's worth of juice to the liquid. Cook this down to a syrupy consistency, cool a bit, then add it and a bit more olive oil to the pesto. Chop the drained clams - not much - and mix these into the pesto, which you then toss with the hot pasta.

              1. re: Will Owen

                What are some decent clams and where can one get them? Thanks.

          3. re: ctmom

            I often add mayo to left over pesto to serve with fish the next day.

            1. re: MMRuth

              For lack of mayo, I've used creme fraiche, heavy cream, or even whole milk. It will change the sauce's consistency, but I love a good creamy pesto no matter what's in it!

          4. re: MMRuth

            Yeah, I add the olive oil to the processor in a thin stream, as if I were making mayo. I find I use much less and it doesn't separate as much (of course, I like a fine, paste-like pesto, not a chunky one).

            Not traditional, but I like pesto on baked potatoes.

            1. re: MMRuth

              exact proportions I used a few days ago, and the olive oil was the right amount.

              I used penne (all I had on-hand) which worked well, but I think I would've preferred linguine or spaghetti.

              it made a great pasta salad the next day, and an even better sandwich the day after. I think it can last a couple of weeks in the fridge easily.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Pesto is such a great thing to have around. I use it on pasta and also in a salad as a dressing. It's also really good on a premade pizza crust, or flatbread, or even a tortilla---whatever you have around. This makes a great lunch or lite supper. Top the pesto sauced pizza crust with carm. onions or roasted peppers, fresh or sundried tomatoes- or a combo- then add goat cheese or feta or smoked gouda- and then bake---you get the idea! Just be creative with the topping, but the pesto works really well on this. It's also great on any sandwich, esp. bacon, lettuce and tomatoe or roasted chicken. Have fun thinking up new combos and if you do one that you love, please share it with us!

              2. The best pasta with pesto I ever had used fresh green fettucine. The texture and color of the pasta blended marvelously with the pesto.

                1. I always use capellini for pesto, you can taste more of the sauce.