Basil Pesto Hunting

After trying various creamy and tomato-sauce pastas, I was happy to settle with sautéed pastas (see the sautéed pasta post) and pesto-from-a-jar.  However, my daughter encouraged me to try freshly made pesto because she tried some very yummy fresh pesto pasta in a one-off garden cooking class at her school. I was beyond pleased because she always turned up her nose at yucky-smelling, weird green fresh herbs (Apologies, basil and other herbs, it is written verbatim). If only the school would arrange more regular cooking classes, my daughter might come home one day asking for an eggplant and chilli dish. If only…..

We tried a green pesto recipe which called for a one-to-one combination of parsley and basil. It was not very tasty. Rather, it was grassy and oily. We decided that excessive amount of parsley and my inability to cook from a recipe with no exact amounts were to blame. Off we went to hunt for the perfect basil pesto recipe.

This pesto sauce recipe from Lucio Galletto published in the SMH website was purported to be the best pesto recipe ever. Another thing that won me over was that the author specified 40 small basil leaves, no more, no less.

This pesto was very easy to make and nourishing. It contains monounsaturated fats from olive oil, a little bit of potassium, vitamin E and zinc from the pine nuts and a little bit of beta carotene from the basil. Note that I used the words ‘a little bit’. The sauce is meant for 4 servings. You will probably not meet your nutrient needs through 1 serving of this sauce. But, it definitely makes a healthy and nourishing pasta sauce.

Spaghetti with Basil Pesto

I love the fact that there was minimal preparation. It was just toss and blend. I was not patient enough to dry the basil leaves, however. As a result, the sauce was a bit watery. I also did not have Pecorino cheese. So, I used 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese instead. It still made a delicious and light meat-free dinner.



Pesto Sauce

A recipe by Lucio Galletto, as per published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30th September 2011

1 garlic clove, peeled
1 pinch sea salt
40 small basil leaves, carefully washed and patted dry
1 tblsp pine nuts nuts (raw, not toasted)
2 tblsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tblsp freshly grated mild Sardinian pecorino cheese
6 tblsp extra virgin olive oil, more if needed

Mortar and pestle method
Place the garlic, and salt (which helps to keep the basil green) in the mortar and start pounding, then add the basil leaves and start crushing, pressing the pestle around the sides in a rotary motion so that the ingredients meld smoothly together. Add the pine and the two cheeses and keep pounding until everything is blended to a paste. Transfer to a larger bowl and add the oil, mixing with a wooden spoon.

Blender method
Place all ingredients into a blender, and process on the lowest speed with intermittent pulsing until the sauce is creamy.

Note: If you are not using the pesto immediately, pour a layer of olive oil on top to prevent discolouration.


9 thoughts on “Basil Pesto Hunting

  1. I live to replace the pine nuts with walnuts for a different and excellent flavor. Alternatively, when using pine nuts I like to add some sun-dried tomatoes. I always roast the nuts before grinding, any nuts. Also, I am a big fan of dripping the oil in slowly so the sauce is firmer and appears and tasted less greasy. Ok, so I am really into pesto. Nice blog. Cheers

  2. All of those ingredients are healthy. The nuts may be different for me though. Otherwise, I probably would enjoy this dish. I especially love garlic and basil. Umm umm! 😛 Thank you for sharing.

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