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 half recommended 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.
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.
Georgio Locatelli's method for pesto. Photograph: