Pesto pasta

Pesto is one of those sauces that is so simple to make it's almost impossible. I've made it with blenders, processors as well as mortar and pestle and none are any better than the other when you don't have fresh ingredients.

This year I got a basil plant growing on the porch and kind of shocked myself with how well it went. It's a bona fide bush now. So I've been getting a lot of pesto practice. I shelled out for good olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and have been very happy with the results.

The other important tip is to use a pasta that holds the sauce well. String pastas tend to leave too much of the sauce in the bowl. I've found tortiglioni or bow ties to be ideal. Of course, as a sauce, pesto has a ton of uses beyond pasta. It's positively divine when used on a steak sandwich.


  • One bunch of basil (40-50 leaves). 
  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 pound pasta. 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


Put the pine nuts in a skillet over medium high heat and stir until golden brown. Set aside.

Put the garlic in the skillet over medium high heat and stir until spotty brown. Remove. Let cool and peel.

Place the basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a food processor and pour in the olive oil as it blends. Process until smooth and slightly runny. Scrape the sides into the sauce as needed.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente and drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

Pour pasta into a large bowl. Add pesto, salt & pepper and mix until uniformly covered. Serve.