BASIL PESTO SAUCE
50 g basil leaves (about 3 - 4 small bunches)
1 garlic clove
25 g grated hard Pecorino cheese
25 g grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp pine kernels
pinch of coarse salt
75 ml good olive oil
Wash the basil leaves in a plenty of cold water and pat dry thoroughly. Parboil the unpeeled garlic clove in boiling water for 30 seconds, then "shock" in ice water and peel.
Lightly toast the pine kernels in hot oven, not letting them brown.
Making pesto using a blender or a hand/immersion blender:
Place the basil leaves, garlic clove, grated cheeses, pine kernels, salt and oil in the blender container and blend until smooth, green paste forms.
Pesto made in a blender is smoother than pesto made by hand.
Making pesto by hand in a mortar:
Chop the basil leaves with a knife. In a large mortar, finely crush the garlic clove, salt and pine kernels with a pestle. Add the chopped basil leaves little at a time,
grinding the mixture against the sides of the mortar until a smooth paste forms. Add the grated cheeses and mix thoroughly. Finally add the oil little at a time,
mixing until well incorporated. Pesto made by hand is slightly coarser than pesto made in a blender.
Scrape the pesto in a clean jar, cover with a thin layer of oil, seal with a lid and store in refrigerator. It will keep for a few days.
Serve the pesto as a spread on bread, chèvre cheese etc, or as a sauce for various salads and cooked pasta (see the picture on right). Warm the pesto slightly in a double boiler before mixing it in with the hot pasta.
Recipe source: chef Laura Ravaioli, Rai Med, 2001.