Basil pesto is one of the most common, traditional and typical pasta condiments. Pesto was born in Genova, in the north west of Italy, like Columbus.
The traditional recipe requires just seven ingredient: essential and sufficient: fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and pecorino cheese. Many foreigners add lemon, but this is very uncommon in Italy, and probably is due to the fact that our cookery is sometimes “lemony” and foreigners thing that lemon is a typical Italian flavor to be added almost everywhere. In any case lemon in pesto is really uncommon here. Sometimes we add fresh cream or tomato sauce to prepare very common variations such as gnocchi with pesto, tomato and cream.
In any case, the traditional 7 ingredient recipe is so perfect that up to me there’s no need to experiment any weird variation.
If you are going to hand made basil pesto using a mortar, the right order to beat the ingredients is: garlic, salt, basil, pine nuts, cheese.
Personally I use the electric mixer. It’s quick and simple and it takes just 2-3 minute to have a nice, flavorful, brilliant basil pesto on the table. Pesto has to be prepared in few minutes: the basil has to be worked quickly, as it tends to darken and oxidize.To prevent oxidation of basil and the darkening of the cream, the secret is to put some ice cubes in the blender and let them moist with the rest of the ingredients.
You can prepare Pesto in large advance, and refrigerate or freeze it until you are ready to use it. When defrosting it do NOT heat it, otherwise the cheese will paste and the color will turn dark.
Pesto is perfect with pasta, but can be used in many other ways. You can try it with grilled tomatoes