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How to Make Perfect Pesto

How to Make Perfect Pesto

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Published by buright
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Categories:Types, Recipes/Menus
Published by: buright on Apr 02, 2013
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11/09/2013

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01/03/2013How to make perfect pesto | Life and style | The Guardianwww.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/sep/02/how-to-make-perfect-pesto/print1/5
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Hey, pesto! Photograph: Felicity Cloake
From sophisticated Italian saucepot to
 
"middle-class ketchup" in a single generation,pesto has suffered more than most foodstuffs at the hands of the British mania forgastronomic appropriation. In the greedy heat of passion, we've spawned pesto crisps,pesto hummus (shudder) and even pesto oatcakes, but oddly enough, we eat very littleof what might be described as "proper pesto". The long-life stuff is undoubtedly a usefulthing to have in the cupboard for emergencies, but don't kid yourself that it's theauthentic taste of the
 
Cinque Terra.To clarify, we're talking classical pesto, of the kind that was being made in north-west
 
How to make perfect pesto
Do you have a passion for pesto? What's your favourite recipe,and is there any better way to eat it than with linguine and greenbeans?
 
01/03/2013How to make perfect pesto | Life and style | The Guardianwww.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/sep/02/how-to-make-perfect-pesto/print2/5
Italy and south-east France long before the Romans and their fermented fish sauce –not "Japanese pesto" or sun-dried tomato pesto, or anything involving rocket. The backbone of this is, of course, basil: Giorgio Locatelli recommends the smaller, sweeterleaves for the fullest flavour, and smoothest texture, but then he also has these leavesflown over specially from
 
Prà, the epicentre of Ligurian pesto production, so he's whatmight be described as a details man. As long as the herb is fresh, and vibrant in colour, you'll probably be OK.I'd laboured under the misapprehension that cheese, garlic and pine nuts were also nonnegotiable, but the nice man at Gastronomica in Borough Market sets me straight whenI go to buy my cheese. "Every pesto is personal," he tells me. "As long as it has basil,cheese and olive oil, it is pesto."
Garlic?
Silver Spoon recipe pesto - not enough basil.Photograph: Felicity CloakeThis is confirmed by my first recipe, from the classic Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon, which omits the garlic, calling instead for 25 basil leaves to be whizzed briefly in a foodprocessor with 100ml extra virgin olive oil, 40g pine nuts and a pinch of salt, and thencombined with 25g grated Parmesan and 25g grated pecorino. I find the basil quotaslightly measly – the finished product is barely green, even fresh out of the machine, butit has a good, nutty flavour. I'd add more leaves (a great handful, rather than the prissily exact 25), but it's a good start.
Cheese
Pecorino (L) and Parmesan cheeses. Photograph:Felicity CloakeOnce upon a time, pesto was only made with Parmesan. That time was roughly 10 yearsago, here in Britain, and was thanks to the fact that the equally popular (in Italy)
 
01/03/2013How to make perfect pesto | Life and style | The Guardianwww.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/sep/02/how-to-make-perfect-pesto/print3/5
pecorino has never been condemned for sale in malodorous little shakers in this country.Thankfully, things have moved on, and the hard, ewe's milk cheese is increasingly available – Giorgio Locatelli likes to use the Sardinian stuff; he feels the island has a"natural connection" with Liguria, where the basil is grown, and he finds it less salty thanParmesan. It's also, like for like, less expensive, although that is not something thatprobably troubles the Michelin-starred chef.In his book, Made in Italy, Locatelli explains that there is "a great divide" betweenParmesan and pecorino lovers, so his recipe specifies either cheese. Having made a pesto with equal quantities of both, I try out a Parmesan and a pecorino version, withLocatelli's 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp of toasted pine kernels, 250g basil leaves, 2 tbsp cheese,300ml extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt, and his method, of which more later. TheParmesan version is definitely saltier than the pecorino, which I feel gets slightly lostamongst the other ingredients. The delicate, lactic flavour of the sheep cheese goes beautifully with the basil though, so I decide to compromise with the half and halrecommended by the Silver Spoon. What I don't like, however, is the garlic, whichmanages to overpower even the all-Parmesan version – usually I love the stuff, buthere, it just seems like a bully. So, at the risk of being labelled a heretic, it's out.
Pine nuts
Toasting pine nuts. Photograph: Felicity CloakeI can't find any recipes for nut-free pestos, apart from on sites dedicated to the allergic, but I try one, in deference to my pesto counsellor at Gastronomica. The pine nutsobviously do a lot to thicken the mixture, and also add a rich sweetness which I miss inmy very green, but rather thin pine-free sauce. Toasting them before use, as suggested by Locatelli, really helps to bring out their flavour.
Pestle pesto?
Georgio Locatelli's method for pesto. Photograph:

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