Pesto Sauce


In Liguria, Italy, where this basil sauce for pasta originated, there are vast fields of basil plants stretching as far as the eye can see. The smell as the basil is picked in the warm sun is exquisite. You can recapture this fantastic smell if you make pesto at home, particularly if you pound the leaves and other ingredients in a pestle and mortar, which is the best way of making the sauce if you have time. For speed, however, whizz all the ingredients in a food processor, adding the cheese last. Keep in well-sealed jars in the refrigerator or freeze. If you haven’t enough basil use some parsley. Makes about 300 ml pint).

  1. Toast 25 g (1 oz) pine kernels in a high oven or toss in a dry frying pan for 1–2 minutes. Put about 50 g (2 oz) roughly sliced fresh basil leaves, 2 roughly chopped garlic cloves, the toasted pine kernels and a good pinch of salt in a mortar. Press and grind with the pestle until the mixture becomes a paste.

  2. Beat in 150-175 ml (5-6 fl oz) olive oil, starting with a drop at a time and gradually increasing to a steady stream, as if making mayonnaise. Stir in 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan and 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese, or use all Parmesan cheese if you can’t obtain Pecorino.