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.