Mrs. Paganelli’s “Pesto”

Preparation info

  • Makes about


    • Difficulty


Appears in

One Good Dish

By David Tanis

Published 2013

  • About

For years I worked with Carl, an Italian-American raised in a San Francisco suburb. He wasn’t a professionally trained cook, but having grown up in a traditional multigenerational Italian family, he’d learned a lot from his relatives, most of whom were great cooks. He was always describing the feasts his clan organized, and I always gleaned a cooking tip from him. One day I saw him chopping up basil and garlic with a knife, then stirring in a generous amount of olive oil. He used it to flavor some stewed zucchini. “This is what my mother called pesto,” he said, but it wasn’t at all like the thick green pesto I knew. I marveled at how quickly the basil flavored the oil; it’s rather ingenious. Drizzle it over most any vegetable, or stir into a pasta dish.