I had a hankering for pesto the other day. I don’t have a food processor and my attempt years ago to use a blender for pesto was a failure. But I figured that pesto was being made before electricity and modern gadgets, so it must be possible. Earlier in the summer I had searched online and found someone who had made pesto using a mezzaluna, a half-moon shaped knife.
So, armed with a sharp knife (no mezzaluna in my kitchen) and a few handfuls of fresh basil leaves from the garden, I proceeded to make this wonderful concoction known as pesto. You probably noticed that there are a few ingredients missing from that picture. I did use garlic, but it didn’t find it’s way into the photo. Unfortunately, I had no pine nuts or walnuts, and since it was 4:30 in the afternoon when I decided to start this experiment, I wasn’t going to run out to the store to buy any. What I found out is pine nuts are not essential – good, probably better with than without, but not essential.
Here’s what I used in very rough estimates. I really just went by looks.
- about 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic
- parmesan cheese, grated, maybe 1/4 – 1/3 cup
- olive oil, maybe 1/2 cup
I wish I had some photos of the process, but making pesto by hand is a messy thing to do. My fingers were stained a lovely shade of brown when I finished. I started chopping the basil leaves, a small bunch at a time. I just kept chopping them until I didn’t think they could get any more fine. I scraped that bunch into a small bowl, poured in some olive oil and chopped more basil. Repeat, until all the basil is chopped.
As I was adding the basil to the bowl, I also stirred in some cheese. Then more oil. More basil, more cheese, more oil. It was somewhere in here I realized I needed garlic too. More chopping, adding, stirring. The kitchen smelled positively divine at this point.
It did take a while to do the chopping, maybe 20 or so minutes. Not something I have time for every day. And all the while I was chopping I was trying to decide exactly what to do with the pesto when I’d finished it. I knew it would involve cheese ravioli, but the rest was still to be decided.
I don’t usually post twice in one day, but today is special Come back later and I’ll show you the final destiny of this pesto sauce. Frozen cheese ravioli will never be the same!
Here’s a picture of the finished pesto. I wish you could smell it too, because it smelled 3000 times better than it looks.