Traditional Pesto

Traditional Pesto
This pesto is fast and can be made ahead and stored in either the refrigerator or the freezer. Basil is traditionally used for Pesto Genovese, but parsley can be substituted for all or some of the basil, with exceptional results. In Genoa, where pesto originated, the best pesto was made with a mortar and pestle. These days, however, many cooks in Genoa (secretly) use food processors in their kitchens. My Aunt Joyce's motto in life is "Easy is Good." In this case, easy is delicious.

Makes: About 1 cup
Time: 10 minutes
  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves (parsley may be substituted), rinsed and dried
  • Salt
  • 1/2 clove garlic, peeled, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as desired
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or other hard cheese (optional)
1) Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture.

2) Store in the refrigerator for a week or two or in the freezer for several months. Stir in the cheese by hand just before serving.