WGBH Kitchen Crew: Pesto Alla Anna

By Rebecca Miller

Comments

"From Kitchen Crew Member Rebecca Miller:

Today I made Lidia Bastianich’s traditional basil pesto. I have made pesto before, but honestly? I usually I buy it. It’s easier! I’ve always used walnuts instead of pine nuts in my pesto, primarily because they’re cheaper, and I’ve never made pesto without parmesan or romano cheese. I’ve also never used mint in pesto. Something new!

This recipe was incredibly easy to make. I used it on pasta for dinner and it was delicious! One of our standard Sunday night recipes is pesto on french bread with ham, cheese, tomatoes, and basil. I’ve also stirred pesto into vegetable soup.

Fresh pesto is easy and worth the effort, but I find a food processor easier to use than a blender. I like to watch the olive oil drizzle into the basil and nuts as they spin in the food processor bowl. I enjoyed the flavor of mint in this particular pesto. It was refreshing and a little different.

This pesto was very good, but the consistency was thin. Great as sauce for pasta, but not so good to spread on bread.

From Kitchen Crew Member Beth O’Brien:

Lidia Bastianich has done for pesto what she has done for much of her repertoire: taken simple, readily available ingredients and made them sing. I have made many different variations of pesto over the years but have never used mint. The mint seemed to tame the basil’s peppery overtones and helped produce a silkier taste, allowing the earthiness of the pine nuts to shine.

Pesto is simply too fabulous to use solely as a pasta dressing. The beauty of pesto is that its ingredients can be combined in varying amounts to produce the texture and flavor most appropriate to its counterpart. Lidia’s recipe is an ideal place to start. Her version would be marvelous drizzled over grilled vegetables. Or use more basil, less olive oil, and asiago cheese as a bruschetta topping. Or replace the basil with parsley and spread on a crusty baguette. The possibilities are quite literally endless.

I have always been curious as to why people purchased pesto. The simplicity of throwing a few fresh ingredients into a food processor belies magnificent results. With fresh herbs at our disposal and the weather beckoning us out of the kitchen, this is the perfect time of year to experiment with pestos."

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