Step up your game and try making pesto. Trust me. It’s easy. If you can’t throw 6 ingredients into a food processor and turn it on, you have much bigger issues than needing to find a pesto recipe.
Pesto means “sauce” in Latin. Or maybe it means “pounded” in Italian. [I’ve heard it both ways.]
The cool thing is this is a formula. You can use whatever greens, oil, nuts, garlic, and hard cheese you have on hand. Pretty cool, right? I know. You came here looking for a pesto recipe and I’m teaching you to fish. Don’t make me explain that.
Also, I’ll give you both the formula AND the recipe, so those of you with little kitchen experience and a lot of anxiety will be okay. Calm down, pop a Xanax, and let’s cook.
**If you prefer volumetric measurements instead of weight, use my dad’s recipe below.
GREENS | 450g
The default is basil, but I used spinach and Italian parsley recently and it was awesome. Try cilantro for a Mexican version.
OIL | 300g
Stick with extra virgin olive oil or any nut oil. Canola just seems weirdly plain but I guess you could use it.
NUTS | 150g
Pine nuts are traditional but super pricey. I’ve used almonds and cashews together and alone. They’re great.
CHEESE | 150g
Stick with hard cheeses. True DOP Parmigiano-Reggiano is king, but try Pecorino Romano for a 🐐 twist. DO NOT buy Kraft “Parmesan.” It’s not real parmesan.
ACID | 30g
e.g., Freshly squeezed lemon juice, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc.
GARLIC | 30g
Peel the garlic. This should be obvious, but people surprise me all the time.
SALT | (to taste)
Notice anything interesting about those numbers? Specifically how they relate to each other? They’re all divisible by 30, which leaves us with a wonderfully clean ratio. That means you can easily scale this up or down. Translation, using just a wee bit of math, you can make a lot or a little pesto. And feel like Einstein in the process.
GREENS | 15
OIL | 10
NUTS | 5
CHEESE | 5
ACID | 1
GARLIC | 1
SALT | (still to taste)
8 garlic cloves
2 cups pine nuts
2 cups Parmigiano
1 1/3 cup olive oil
Anthony LeDonne Weighs His Pesto Like A Drug Dealer
Okay, I don’t meant to insult you [I do], but this should be simple. It’s two steps. Two. Steps.
Put everything except the oil into the food processor and blend or process.
Add oil. Blend some more. [All other recipes say to slowly drizzle the olive oil in. Some sciencey shit about creating an emulsion. I used to do that. And then I stopped. Because I got lazy. And you know what? ZERO DIFFERENCE.]
Bravo. You just made pesto. Toss it with some noodles, slather it on your steak. Eat spoonfuls of it while no one’s looking [my fave].
If you’re so inclined, and I highly recommend that you get yourself inclined, I’d recommend blanching the greens and the garlic before blending/processing. Why? Because I said so, that’s why. But If you need another reason besides blindly following the advice of someone you’ve never met [and hopefully never will], the other reason is that it will make your pesto stay a bright beautiful green instead of turning into that muddy-green-baby-poo-after-Indian-food color. Also, blanching the garlic tempers its bite, so you get garlic flavor without the burn.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. It should taste like the ocean. [Salty.]
Toss garlic in.
Remove after about 5 minutes. I don’t know exactly how long. It could be 4 minutes, or 8. Probably shouldn’t be more than 10.
Toss greens in.
Remove once they turn bright green and lose their crunch. Around 5 seconds for basil. Around 20-30 seconds for parsley or cilantro. No, I’m not giving you the exact time to blanch. It depends on what greens you’re using. Use your judgement. You’re not a complete fool [despite what your spouse screams at you after she gets her Cosmo Confidence going].
Squeeze as much of the water out as you can. If you’ve never squeezed warm wet greens before, shit’s about to get weird. It’s uncomfortable, but just think of it as a sponge you’re wringing out and are about to pulverize into a sauce.