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Jun 6, 2012 05:42 PM

pesto bliss (per the nyt)

so what could the secret be here?

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  1. Attention to detail, and great ingredients.

    1. And the Om in the food processor.

      1. My new favorite is pesto made with fresh mint and parsley, pistachios, olive oil and salt. Will be trying it next week on gnocchi using the recipe in the same issue of the NY Times.

        1 Reply
        1. re: escondido123

          Glad to see that someone else uses pistachios in a pesto! I make a pesto with basil, parsley, and lemon (both juice and zest)' along with garlic and olive oil. A nice pesto for those avoiding dairy. I just used some from last years batch that I had in the freezer.

        2. It's pretty untraditional with the addition of parsley. I make mine in the VitaMix, which gives it a silkier texture than the food processor. I think the VitaMix way is more similar to traditional pesto made in the motar and pestle. Those also tend to be very silky in texture.

          15 Replies
          1. re: roxlet

            these are the same ingredients I have been using for my whole pesto career. Ed Giobbi and I believe marcella both call for parsley (my recollection is that they say to reinforce the green element) and the pine nuts are unroasted as well. of course the devil is in the details with this type of recipe. the type of basis, the carefulness of excluding the bitter flowers, the exact proportions etc. We started with a blender and I still think the product was better flavored than the FP version we do know, but my taste buds were younger too!

            1. re: jen kalb

              Jen, Marcella's "Classic" does not even mention parsley, though she does call for butter; Fred Plotkin's many local Ligurian recipes vary mostly in their combinations of nuts (walnuts and/or pinoli) and cheese (parmigiano and/or pecorino) . He does suggest parsley can and sometimes is added to freshen the green. Here, as posters have noted, quality ingredients, time, and attention to detail are the keys. I might fuss a bit about using younger or smaller basil leaves to avoid that heavy mintiness, but it's, as you say, a very well-worn and simple recipe. Kudos to the Buddhapestos for carving out a neat business. but pesto's so easy to make, I don't know why I'd buy theirs. But it is neat to see what was once (in the 80s) so ubiquitous a marker of foodiness that it became a parody of itself, still show signs of coolness.

              1. re: bob96

                The parsley really surprised me, as did the lack of roasting for the pinenuts (I swear my own is far better when I take the time to roast and I like to use them warm to melt the parm a bit) and the lack of lemon juice (a key ingredient for me).

                I actually prefer more mature basil too or I find the basil gets lost.

                The sound is key. I don't even taste test until I hear a pretty whir over garlic clunking around.

                1. re: bob96

                  Heres the recipe I posted a few years back. its been a while since I have cracked the books on this. ps I note this does not include the butter added at the finishing stage

                  , the small recipe first then the bulk method for the food processor or blender.(credit to Ed Giobbi and marcella H)

                  Recipe to serve 6:
                  for making the paste:
                  2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems or flowers or little top stem leaves- when basil blooms, it gets bitter), gently packed.
                  handful of parsley leaves (to accentuate green color)
                  2 tbsp pine nuts
                  2 cloves garlic. peeled and cut roughly
                  1/2 cup olive oil

                  for adding when the dish is assembled:
                  1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano or grana padano cheese
                  2 tbsp freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
                  salt to taste

                  Put the garlic cloves in the blender or food processer and chop, then add the basil and parsley, pine nuts on top (weigh it down) start the motor, and add oil blending gradually until a paste forms and all the leaves are smoothly incorporated - it will still be grainy looking but no big pieces of anything.. You may need to scrape down the sides a bit before this happens.

                  When you are ready for use, stir in the cheeses and salt to taste - some butter or ricotta can be added if liked.
                  The pesto can be served with dry or fresh pasta, and is particularly good when some thinly sliced potatoes and frenched green beans are added to the pasta while cooking.

                  Bulk method: I usually make this in bulk without measuring the leaves - first put into blender or processor 4-6 cloves of garlic, chop, then stuff the machine full of basil leaves, add a large handful of the parsley and a cpl handfuls of the pine nuts and start the motor. Add oil slowly - as much as needed until it amalgamates into a nice paste

                  Storage - The usual way to prevent oxidation (blackening) and spoilage is to cover the finished pesto with olive oil.I usually pack the pesto into small plastic freezer boxes - after it is solidified sufficiently, I add a thin layer of olive oil. Recently I have covered the top before freezing with plastic wrap which I remove to add the olive oil. We just cut slices off these cubes to use. You can also store in refrig, with a good covering of olive oil, but you have to make sure that the jar is clean and that the pesto is recovered with oil after use- pesto smeared down the side of the jar will cause spoilage and oxidation.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks, Jen. I'm saving this one for when (soon) I try (again) to put up a batch. May I recommend a related pesto recipe from Rosetta Costantino, author of My Calabria--it's an amazing crema di zucchine that purees braised zucchine and onion and garlic with lots of basil and parsley.. It makes an addictive, and easily scalable, condimento.

                    1. re: bob96

                      Thanks for that link, bob96. The crema di zucchine looks terrific.

                      1. re: bob96

                        that sounds good for me - especially since I struggle with liking zucchini sometime (except when all the water is removed)

                      2. re: jen kalb

                        Ive tracked back through my books that I had back in the 70s when I started making pesto. The recope above is basically marcella's (from Classic), with the addition of the parsley from Giobbi.
                        marcella adds butter - giobbi's rec does not but his spaghetti al pesto recipe - which includes sliced potatoes and green beans in addtion to the pesto, also includes butter
                        It looks like I got the idea of blanching the basil from Wolferts 1977 Mediterranean book, which offers a recipe from Nervi that is basically otherwise the same as marcella and giobbi (without the parsley) but also included 2-3 tbsp of cream.
                        none of these recipes call for roasting the pine nuts.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Good sleuthing there, Jen!

                          I just tried the technique of blanching the basil this week, and the main thing I didn't like about it was that the amounts seemed off because of the degree to which the blanched basil seemed to become less in quantity once it was blanched. I know there wasn't less basil, but it looks that way, and I seem to have used too much cheese, which I processed with the pignoli before I blanched the basil. But I love that it does stay green and doesn't oxidize. My son loves pesto as a spread on sandwiches,and this will work fine for that application. Since I have that Wolfert book, I'll check out her methods and quantities. Looks like I'll have to do something I have never done before in making pesto: measure!

                          1. re: roxlet

                            its not really less in quantity of course since you measure before you blanch - it just loses its fluffiness and some water content. I never put the cheese in until the time of use, however., so what I freeze is the basil-garlic-oil-pignoli paste. the rest is added at the time of use.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              Well, since I use it also as a sandwich spread, it wouldn't work for me to add the cheese later...

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      Many years ago, I had a boyfriend from Italy, and he was a fanatic when it came to making pesto. He would only use the tiniest leaves on the basil, and throw the rest away. They were too strong for his taste. BTW, Marcella doesn't use parsley. What I do when I make pesto, is start with the FP to get he ingredients somewhat amalgamated. I then transfer to the Vita Mix. It makes a big difference, IMHO.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        Thats right, Marcella doesnt use parsleybut Ed Giobbi does...I think its odd to only use the smallest leaves, since basil leaves typically get bigger and bigger until the plants move toward flowering at which point the leaves start to reduce in size (and those top leaves are bitter) maybe he likes the tinier types of basil best. Certainly what is sold as genovese here has smaller , more delicate leaves than some types.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Yes, I'm sure he was thinking of the Genovese. But the little leaves he would use were the leaves on the side of the big leaves.

                  2. My guess is that it is a success because it comes in a jar and it tastes really good and fresh - that's an accomplishment. I never use jarred pesto but might try this one. I will also guess that all of us make great pesto but what would it taste like out of jar 3 weeks later? Have any of you tried jarring your pesto? If so, what were the results?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: athenapo

                      " difficult for the couple to keep up with a summer demand that can be unrelenting"

                      It sounds like her jars might not be sitting on the shelves that long.

                      Does refrigerated plastic container count as "jarred" pesto? There are some decent ones but I don't like any of the shelf stable jarred kinds.

                      1. re: athenapo

                        I was wondering about that. I'm not a fan of the shelf-stable pestos, particularly compared to home-made, and when I make it myself, I usually use it within a day, or freeze it (minus the cheese) for later.

                        If it's being sold and stored at room-temperature, I would think it must need some sort of processing for safety, but pasturizing is going to kill a lot of that fresh pesto taste.

                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                          I've used the pesto at Costco a few times a couple of years ago. The taste is OK, but in my opinion seems to taste more like a dip than pesto - as compared to homemade pesto.
                          If I have to have a pesto in the winter and no basil, I'll do a pesto of parsley - not bad.