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Jun 22, 2010 03:36 PM

Pesto with Mortar and Pestle ... who knew?!

When I make pesto, I usually borrow a food processor and blend away.

Last night I used manual labor -- lots and lots of manual labor -- to make pesto.

The difference was stunning.

It was like the difference between gourmet whole grain mustard and French's.

Nothing wrong with French's mustard, but damn, when you've partaken of pure pesto ecstasy, it's going to be hard to go back.

If you (1) like pesto (2) have never used a mortar and pestle to make pesto and (3) you want forearms like Popeye, then you owe yourself the experience.

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  1. Hey Ips..., I think the words pesto and pestle have the same latin root so it makes sense that it'd be so transcendent. A m&p is one of the (very) few kitchen gadgets I DON'T have. Might have to rethink that... adam

    1. If you like coffee, try grinding your coffee bean with a M & P.

      1. How was the texture? I find pesto made with the m & p method to be almost buttery and silky; much finer in both texture and quality than FP made pesto. Of course that texture depends on how long your arm holds out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          I'm not sure the texture was all that different (although there was some difference) between m/p and f/p, but the taste was differently -- quite significant.

          The hand-made m/p pesto had clarity and pronounced definition in flavor (as well as texture) compared to the f/p variety -- which by comparison tasted rather monotonous.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            I usually make my pesto in a Vita-Mix blender, and it also comes out very silky. I have a mortar and pestle but never have I used it for pesto. Years ago, I knew an Italian guy who would only make pesto with the tiniest leaves of the plant, and he would toss the rest away. Now that pesto was definitely a different taste to me.

          2. Have been making pesto in a large porcelain M&P for years, and I have a very good food processor. As you say there is a huge difference in the quality. Now wanting to source a large molcajete to make chile sauce.........

            1. I started with mortar and pestle and then moved toward to food processor because I just cannot keep up with all the manual work. It is slow and low output.

              Sure, hand washing laundary can be cleaner than machine washing, but that is only true if you are not tired.