Bella Monte | Perfect Pairing

Classic Pesto

Featuring some of the most treasured ingredients in Italian cooking, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, pignoli and Parmesan cheese, this sauce is meant to garnish the simplest of ingredients, allowing the fresh, earthy taste and fragrance of Italy to be savored.
Makes about 1 cup

4 cups basil leaves, packed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ Parmesan cheese, finely grated
¼ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
2 cloves garlic finely minced
Flaked sea salt

In a food processor, add the basil, oil, Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic and process until smooth; taste, season with salt.

COOK’S NOTES: In a recipe such as this with only five ingredients, it’s really worth the time and a little extra cost to seek out quality ingredients.

First, shop for the youngest basil (think small leaves) you can find, better yet, order a pack of Italian basil seeds and find a little patch of ground or pot and grow you own–the taste is amazing. If you can’t find any young basil, blanch the basil in simmering water for 30 seconds and immediately place in an ice water bath–this can help soften the bitter nature of the mature leaves. Think young also when it comes to garlic, the smaller bulbs tend to be sweeter.

Using the more costly Italian pignoli (pine nuts) makes sense here, you need so few for the sauce. A mild, olive oil is preferred vs a fruity ones which can overpower the delicate flavors also, opt for a mild flaked sea salt.

I often use a mix of cheeses, such as ½ cup Parmesan and about a ¼ cup of Percorino Romano, to add a little sharpness to the sauce.