Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

While you can certainly place all the ingredients in the food processor and have pesto ready in 2 minutes, I encourage you to try to do this by hand. I used a large chef’s knife because I’m still lacking a mezzaluna. I won’t lie to you, you’ll be chopping for solid 15 minutes at least (which might seem like a long time to chop), but I guarantee you that you’ll be blown away by the difference in texture. The flavor, too, will be brighter – the garlic will be garlicky-er; the basil – more basil-y; the pine nuts – a bit nuttier. It’s good, so good in fact, that you might make it several nights and a row and your boyfriend (or girlfriend) won’t even complain that you’ve been eating pasta for several days on. And here’s a bonus, if you live in a tiny apartment with an even tinier kitchen and almost no counter space – this recipe should be exciting. With no food processor necessary, you now have an additional dish to whip up for yourself or when you have company. With a dollop of fresh ricotta, this humble meal can be, easily, turned into a feast!

1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
one small handful of raw pine nuts
roughly 3/4 cup freshly grated, loosely packed Parmesan
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil


1. Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. Continue to scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a basil “cake” – i should be a tightly packed square. Transfer the pesto “cake” to a small bowl (not much bigger than the cake), add the rest of the Parmesan, and stir well to combine. Cover with a bit of olive oil, it doesn’t take much, just a few tablespoons.

2. You can set this aside or place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Just before serving give the pesto a quick stir to incorporate some of the oil into the basil.

Makes about 1 cup.

© 2024 Olga Massov