TRADITIONALLY made with basil, crushed garlic olive oil and pine nuts, pesto or pesto alla genovese is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy. Although a north African herb that first came out of India, the Ligurians around Genoa took the dish and adapted it, using a combination of basil, crushed garlic, parsley, grated hard cheese (parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, etc.), and pine nuts with a little olive oil to form pesto. In French Provence the dish evolved into the modern pistou, a combination of basil, parsley, crushed garlic, and grated cheese (optional). However, pine nuts are not included.
However, with all that history, and the traditional use of ingredients, my perfect pesto has a slight variation to it where all the ingredients are sourced at the Milk Market in Limerick.
WHAT YOU NEED
1 bag of fresh basil
1 clove of garlic, peeled
125g of walnuts, unsalted
olive oil to loosen the mix
sea salt flakes
cracked black pepper
freshly grated parmesan
juice of half a lemon
WHAT TO DO
This is a very simple recipe and you can use it with pasta, roast chicken or cured meats. A favourite is to have it with a selection of cheeses and in particular goats cheese.
Anyway, pick the best basil leaves from the bunch and place in a blender, the more you use the better your pesto will be.
Roughly chop the peeled garlic and add the salt, pepper, walnuts, parmesan, shallot and lemon to the blender. Drizzle with olive oil and pulse until roughly mixed.
Before you finish to make a pesto like puree from the ingredients, taste and adjust the seasoning so that you have a light garlic flavour that is swarmed by the cheese and basil. The key is to try not to have any one ingredient overpowering the mix…
When you have checked the seasoning and are happy with it, give the mix one last pulse and store in a clean jar in the fridge. Before you seal the lid, pour a very light layer of good olive oil over the top as this will keep the pesto fresh for up to four weeks.