The Best Recipe for Pesto & How to Make it
Basil is perhaps one of nature’s most versatile herbs for the kitchen, featuring in cuisines from around the world. Whilst basil is perhaps most synonymous with Italy and Italian cooking, the fragrant herb actually comes from Asia originally, native to India, Thailand, Pakistan, Iran and surrounding countries. No wonder Thai basil (Genovese basil is the authentic cultivar of basil used for pesto) tastes so perfect in curries. Basil was imported into Europe thousands of years ago, along with many other spices and herbs, across the ancient silk road, which was the main route for traders to bring goods from the East into Europe, from as early as the 2nd century BC.
The etymology of the word ‘basil’ has both Greek and Latin roots. It is said that basil could come from ‘basileus’, meaning ‘king’ in Greek. There is also a Latin word, ‘basilisk’, which is a word for a fire-breathing dragon. According to legend, basil is the cure for the venom of the basilisk. So, keep that in mind next time you leave the shire, or have fallen out with Daenerys Targaryen. Treatment against fire-breathing dragons aside, this herb has a rich tradition as a medicinal treatment. In Indian ayurvedic medicine, for example, basil was used as a snake bite treatment, whilst more recently, research has shown basil has anti-fungal and insect-repelling properties. Final fun fact; did you know Basil is actually part of the mint (Lamiaceae) family?
Perhaps basil is best known for its main role in the making of pesto, a beloved pasta condiment from Italy, famous throughout the world. For a bit more etymology, this time on ‘pesto’, the word comes from the Italian verb pestare which means ‘to pound’ or ‘to crush’ – an obvious reference to the fun way to make pesto which we’ll get on to shortly.
Fresh & Home-grown Ingredients for Pesto
The best recipe for pesto has to of course include fresh, home-grown ingredients. Want to grow your own basil for the best pesto? If you’d like to have a go and include herb-growing to the list of your CV skills, why not try our hydro herb kit range?
Grow Fresh Basil with The Stem
Hydro herbs are a very cool and efficient way to grow your herbs through the use of hydroponics. Instead of using soil, hydroponics (which simply means Latin for water-working) uses water to grow plants. The benefits of hydroponics are that it can be much faster to grow your herbs versus using soil, from anywhere between 30-50%, whilst saving space versus traditional soil growing, as hydroponics don’t require as much width as potted plants holding soil. You could create your own little herb garden in your spare room; no more buying shrivelled and tired looking herbs wrapped in plastic at the supermarket.
Furthermore, growing hydroponically tends to be easier in terms of maintaining your herbs, whilst reducing the risk of insects and bugs who are more likely to attack soil-based plants.
The hydro herb range is a great introduction to growing hydroponically and perhaps you could expand your repertoire afterwards - just be sure to give us an invite to dinner to taste all the fresh ingredients!
How to Make Basil Pesto-Using The Best Recipe for Pesto
It goes without saying that for optimal sapore buone, you’ll want to use fresh genovese basil leaves - ideally grown in your home of course. First of all, here’s what you need for the best recipe for pesto:
- Large bunch of fresh basil leaves
- 10g/0.4oz Pine nuts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- One clove of garlic
- 3 tablespoons/1.05oz parmigiano reggiano
- Chopping board
- Blender / Mortar and Pestle
- Once you’ve got your fresh basil ready, give it a good wash and make sure you get rid of any little critters before giving your basil leaves a good dry. (By this point, the fragrant aroma of the basil leaves will already be making you and your guests hungry!)
- Next, make sure the leaves are dry and use a paper towel to pat them down a bit to remove any excess moisture.
- After this, use your blender (or mortar and pestle if you fancy cooking in a more traditional way) to mix extra virgin olive oil with garlic to get a lovely smooth consistency before adding pine nuts and then giving the blender another whirl.
- Then, you’ve guessed it - time to add the basil leaves, a little sea salt, two more tablespoons of olive oil, and your cheese of choice (either pecorino or parmesan for an authentic taste) and blend again for 30 seconds.
- Finally, have a little taste. If it's too salty, add a little more olive oil and basil and keep going until you’re happy with it. And then, hey pesto!
<h4>Enjoy Homemade Pesto with The Best Recipe for Pesto!</h4>
You’ve got your very own homemade pesto using the best recipe for pesto; a delightful sauce for quiet evenings in, or cooking for guests. You can guarantee that your homemade version will be both healthier and tastier than supermarket equivalents.
You can keep your basil in an airtight jar in the fridge for a long time. That said, having just made some delicious homemade pesto, you’ll probably want to make a pesto dish straight away. Buon appetito!