This homemade pesto recipe is simple, authentic, and is the closest thing you can get to the real deal in Italy.
2garlic cloves, skin on
3oz. finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2bunches or 4 cups of loosely packed fresh basil*, rinsed and patted dry, leaves removed from stems
3/4cupextra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
In a small nonstick pan or skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to toss the pine nuts frequently to avoid burning and to encourage even browning. Once the pine nuts are aromatic and a deep golden brown, remove from heat and set aside. Using the same pan, toast the garlic cloves (skin still on) for 5-7 minutes, rotating to different sides every couple of minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the pine nuts and garlic have cooled, coarsely chop the garlic. Place all ingredients including the pine nuts, garlic, salt, Parmigiano Reggiano, basil, and extra virgin olive oil in the food processor. Turn food processor on and blend until smooth, but not completely pureed. You should still be able to see small flecks of basil and very small bits and pieces of nuts throughout. If your pesto is too thick, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and pulse for a few more seconds. Taste the pesto and add more salt if needed.
If serving immediately with pasta**, cook 12 ounces of pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. In a dutch oven or large pan, toss to combine the pesto, al dente pasta, and a splash of the hot pasta water. Top with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy immediately!
*Knowing exactly what a bunch of basil is can be confusing. A 2-2.5 ounce package of basil from the store (the one that you'll find in the refrigerated herb section) is a great representation of one bunch. The basil from one potted basil plant that's sold at Trader Joe's or other grocery stores would also be considered one bunch. Trader Joe's also sells extra-large 4-ounce containers of basil, which would be the perfect amount for all of the basil needed for this recipe. **This pesto will go well with practically any pasta, but we love serving it with spaghetti, gemelli, or traditional Ligurian pastas such as trofie or linguine.