How to Make Pesto

A recipe and tips for making pesto courtesy of the famous French cooking school, LaVarenne
How to Make Pesto

Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed glass jar.

Pesto is a classic Italian sauce, originally from Genoa, used for hot pasta, pasta salads, and flavoring.The southern French equivalent, pistou (made without pine nuts), is stirred into vegetable soups.To store pesto, put it in a glass jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to seal it. Cover the jar tightly and refrigerate; it will keep for at least a week. Pesto also freezes particularly well, without loss of flavor or color. Anne Willan’s LaVarenne Pratique, an essential culinary reference book for both novice and expert cooks, shares this pesto recipe.

Ingredients to make 1¾ cups of pesto
1 cup basil leaves, washed and dried
6 cloves garlic, peeled
⅓ cup pine nuts
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

If you’re using a food processor, purée the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese with two to three tablespoons of olive oil.

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With the blade turning, slowly add the remaining oil so that the sauce emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you’re using a mortar and pestle, chop the basil and then add it to the mortar along with the garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Using the pestle, mix and pound the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined and form a smooth purée.

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Then, gradually add the olive oil until the paste is well blended and smooth. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

For more recipes, tips, and techniques, visit LaVarenne’s website or buy a digital copy of LaVarenne Pratique.


Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.