Submitted by Coppola’s Ristorante
Summer is the time of year when gardens are full of pesto’s essential ingredient and what the Greeks called the “royal herb” or as we know it, basil. If you don’t grow it, you can often find it at farmers markets for a fraction of the cost that you pay for it in the winter. Fresh basil has a wonderful pungent aroma and an incredible flavor that is a cross between licorice and cloves.
Pesto Sauce originated in Genoa, Italy. In Genoa, tomato sauce is generally not used very often. Instead, they use pesto. Pesto can be used on pasta, chicken, fish, pizza and bread. Use pesto sauce just as you would use tomato sauce with one exception. You use much less because of its intense flavor.
The word pesto defines the way the sauce is made, ala a grinding motion that comes from using a mortar and pestle. By tradition, real pesto is made with very basic ingredients, fresh basil, olive oil, fresh garlic, imported Romano cheese and pine nuts.
Pesto sauce should never be cooked. Basil turns dark in color when heated and its flavor changes. It should be used at room temperature. Because of its thick consistency it should be thinned out with cream, water or chicken stock. You would then toss it with your cooked pasta allowing the heat from the pasta to warm up your pesto. You would also use it the same way as a topping on cooked chicken, or fish or as a spread on hot bread.
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts (pignolia)
1 dash salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup imported Romano cheese grated
Peel and chop the garlic using a food processor. Wash, dry and remove the stems from the fresh basil and add into the food processor. Chop the basil until almost a paste. Add in the salt, pepper, pine nuts and cheese and process again. Finally, while the processor is on, slowly add in the olive oil until you have a creamy consistency. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and re mix. If it is too thick add a few tablespoons of water till creamy.