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The “oeno-gastronomic reporter” Roasario Scarpato has written a history of pesto. You can read it here. Apart from his assertion that any other versions of pesto that don’t consist solely of the traditional garlic/basil/cheese/oil ingredient list are “aberrations” or are “bogus”, it is a rather interesting read. Granted, Wikipedia’s entry on pesto is also quite readable, but comes without the cachet that a “gastronomic investigator” lends.

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 28g bags of basil. (Yes. From a supermarket.) Leaves stripped from stalks.
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves. (This really depends on how garlicky you want it to taste and the size of your cloves.)
  • Parmesan/Grana Padano/Pecorino, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

I’m not going to be overly precious about this method. Basically, toast pine nuts and blend with the garlic until creamy. Add the basil, some salt, and blend again. Add cheese and blitz, pouring in olive oil until combined. Lemon juice, again to taste, and pepper.

That’s it. Its not really a recipe. Its an assembly. Mix with cooked pasta (in the photo above we ate it with semi-wholewheat (don’t ask) fusilli, added some freshly cooked peas, and served scattered with more pine nuts and some extra Parmesan.  Job done.

The remainder can be frozen, or put in a tub, covered with a layer of olive oil, and will keep for a fortnight or so. If it lasts that long.

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