Pesto sauce is a common topping served with many types of pasta. It is native to the Genovese region of Italy, where this herbal sauce is made from basil.
The best thing about pesto sauce is you don't have to go to a restaurant to get it. In fact, you don't have to buy it in a store, but you can make a DIY pesto sauce from home.
All you need is some basil, olive oil, nuts, garlic, salt, and cheese. Then voila, you have the makings of the best pesto sauce. What's even better is that you just need a food processor and pesto is made in minutes. You can also use a sharp knife or mortar and pestle if you like doing handy work.
Variety of Foods with Pesto Sauce
Pesto sauce is a great sauce for spring and summer. Since we are in spring and summer is coming, you can find bushels of basil in many places. Having easy access to basil, allows for making pesto sauce from the convenience of your home.
Pesto mixes well for hot spaghetti, or a pasta salad for a picnic or barbecue. Pesto sauce is also good for other foods like potatoes, lamb meatballs, or green beans.
Here are some great steps in making pesto sauce at home:
- 2 cups of fresh basil leaves - the stems can come off.
- 1/2 cup of Dagostino extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 - 1/3 cup of pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves grated or minced.
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
- Make the pesto sauce to your liking - You can adjust how much basil you want to use, since basil has a powerful aroma. Adding baby spinach leaves to reduce the basil's aroma but keep the flavor. You can use half basil and half spinach.
- Cut with a knife - You can first chop up all the ingredients by hand with a sharp knife including basil, nuts, cheese.
- Use a mortar and pestle - The traditional way is to use a marble mortal and a wooden pestle to crush the basil.
- Invest in a food processor - If you want the sauce done in minutes, put all ingredients in the processor at the same time. The food processor is a great investment that can last a long time for making other foods as well.
- Toast the pine nuts - It's best to toast the pine nuts to bring out the flavor. Place them in the oven at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes on a baking sheet. Toss them every few seconds, to prevent burning. Once they are golden brown take them out and let them cool off. They can also cool off in the food processor as well.
- You can change the nuts - Pesto sauce traditionally has pine nuts. However, you can add any type of nuts, including almonds or walnuts. You can also add seeds instead of nuts, like sunflower or pumpkin.
- If Parmesan is not your thing - Most pesto sauces are usually made with Parmesan cheese. However, you can use other aged-hard cheese, like Pecorino or Manchego. Romano is also a great alternative for a stronger flavor than Parmesan.
- Mix in the olive oil slowly - While you have the basil, garlic, and cheese mixing in the processor, you add the olive oil slowly. This emulsifies the mixture keeping the oil from separating.
- Add the basil last - You can add the basil last to keep the color of the basil. You add the basil, after mixing the oil, nuts, garlic, salt, and cheese. You pause the processor, lift the lid, and add the basil.
- Put the cheese in last for texture - If you like a texture to your sauce, add the cheese in last into the food processor. For a smooth sauce, put all ingredients together in the processor at once.
- Wrap the sauce in plastic - When storing your pesto sauce in the refrigerator, cover the top with plastic wrap. If the sauce is exposed to the air, it darkens the sauce, losing its flavor. Make sure that the plastic wrap is touching the top of the sauce, preventing the air from getting to it.
- Save some sauce for later - If you made more pesto sauce than you need, you can freeze it. You can put it in ice trays, taking out as many cubes you want to use. It can last up to 8 months in the freezer and lasts up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
Now It's Time for Pesto Pasta
Once the pesto sauce is made, you can now add it to your pasta. Cook 12 oz. of long pasta, boiling it until al dente. Once you drain the pasta, keep a 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. We recommend long rod shaped pastas such as Dagostino's Fettuccine or Linguine.
Place the pesto sauce and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl. Then add the pasta, water, and use tongs to toss the mixture vigorously, until the pasta is glossy. You can add the salt for flavor.
Have Pesto Pasta Warm or Cold
The great thing about pesto sauce is that you don't have to heat it up. You can add it to hot or cold pasta. If you heat up pesto sauce it changes the color and texture of the sauce. The cooked pasta will warm up the pesto sauce.
Enjoy Your Pesto Sauce
With these tips and information, you can make the best pesto sauce ever. The idea is to make the pesto sauce according to your taste buds. Pesto sauce is not just for dining out, but you can make it in your home.
If you like spring and like to try new things, try making pesto sauce with Dagostino's fresh pasta. You will enjoy the fresh aroma of basil in your home, as well as giving your pasta dishes new flavors.