Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Homemade Pesto alla Genovese - How to Make Your Own at Home (The Mortar & Pestle Method)

Making pesto isn't just another cooking (kitchen) activity for us. I love making pesto at home because it's also a great bonding session for me and my son. Baby D who turned two recently, is a very fast learner and a great kitchen helper. His instincts are also very good - without me telling him, he knows which ingredient should go in next (pure luck or really smart, I don't know!). The first time we made it together, I taught him how to tear the basil leaves and the next time we did it, he started on it without me having to tell him what to do. I am really pleased that he is showing such a great interest in cooking because it is a fun morning activity for the both of us while his sister in school. And when she gets home from school, she gets to enjoy the pesto that we made! ;)

Our first homemade pesto.. love the vivid colours


You can make pesto at home using a blender or mortar and pestle. I chose the latter, which is the traditional way of making pesto. The pesto also stays vibrant for a longer time, as the steel blades from the blender are said to cause the basil to oxidise. For this same reason, you should always tear your basil leaves by hand and not cut it with a knife. My Jamie Oliver mortar and pestle was brought back all the way from UK ;) Doing it the traditional way certainly takes a bit more time, but it's really fun at the same time.

Cutest (very helpful) kitchen helper ;)


Pesto alla Genovese is a sauce originating from Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, as well as Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep's milk). The name comes from the Genoese word pestâ which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with a marble mortar and wooden pestle. However, the ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are not "pounded" but "ground" with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar.



Quite a lot of sweet basil leaves is required to make your own pesto at home, we usually have to pluck from 2-3 basil plants that we have growing in our garden. You can reduce the amount of garlic if you find it too "spicy". Pine nuts add a nice creaminess to the pesto - in KL, you can find pine nuts in Jusco MidValley. Homemade pesto is best served immediately, as it loses its vibrant colour after a while.  You can use it as a spread on bread, with pasta or served with tomatoes/cheese, just to name a few. I will share a few recipes in the coming weeks.


Homegrown sweet basil

Raw pine nuts

 Homemade pesto alla Genovese



Homemade pesto alla Genovese
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Serves 2 (Makes about 100g)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn by hand (approx. 25g)
15g raw pine nuts
20g freshly grated Parmesan cheese (use Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano)
1/2 bulb garlic (6-7 cloves), peeled and crushed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic, and pine nuts to a fine paste. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Add torn basil and pound/ground again.



Remember to tear the basil leaves by hand, and not using a knife





2. Pour in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, stirring gently to combine until you get a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in a clean jar in the fridge covered with a slick of oil to prevent it drying out. However, homemade pesto is best served immediately.

Note: You can also make it in a food processor, simply place all ingredients and blitz for 1-2 minutes, until you get a paste. Use immediately or place in a clean bowl/tupperware and cover with a layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation.





42 comments:

  1. Looks luxuriously green...thumbs up! =)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks KC! Homemade stuff is the best!

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  2. He really is the cutest little helper I agree! I wonder if he will end up being a chef? :D

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    1. Who knows? Or just a very good husband who can cook! :)

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  3. ooo have to use hand to tear the basil leave...i didnt know that

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  4. I love the colour of the pesto , so fresh and vibrant, nice nice.

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  5. Indeed the cutest kitchen helper.
    Such a fresh pesto! I like pesto on my pizza and pastas! ;-)

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    1. Me too! Great with pasta, my daughter likes it for her lunch!

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  6. wow good for you.. can have homegrown basil.

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    Replies
    1. Happy my basil plant is still growing nicely :)

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  7. I can see that Daniel is going to be a great chef in the future! Already getting his hands dirty in the kitchen at such a tender age! Well done to both of you!

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    Replies
    1. Hopefully it will last into his teens. Then I can sit back and relax while he cooks up a nice meal for mummy. :)

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  8. Looks so refreshing and greeny. Loving the color

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    Replies
    1. Me too! The vibrant green is such a happy colour.

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  9. Nice, always wanted to make my own pesto but still hvt gotten round to it! So cute la yr boy, with the hat :)

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    Replies
    1. It's not that difficult right... plus all the ingredients can be sourced easily. :)

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  10. Love this! If I don't have the motar, I can just blend the stuff?

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    1. Yes Mich, you can use a blender. It's much easier however just take note it may cause the leaves to oxidise faster.

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  11. Would like to see how u made the sauce wit pasta....

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    1. Will share it soon... but this month might be a bit busy since many other scheduled posts/recipes.

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  12. with all this training from such an early age, i wouldn't be surprised if baby d someday becomes the head of a three-michelin-star restaurant! and if that does happen, i will ask you to help ensure table reservations for me :D anyways, i love pesto, it's one of my favorite pasta sauces. my preference is more basil, less olive oil! :D

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  13. aww Baby D is so cute and clever!

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  14. Homegrown sweet basil ?! I hate you , Yen ! lol That pesto is really great with pasta or as a filling to some bread or to just about everything :D Baby D , throw Auntie some of your delectable pesto over here !!!

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    1. Actually you can grow it in a pot by your windowsill, I think your climate is perfect for it!

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  15. aw.. I m sure the pesto tasted extra sweet from Baby D's help! Gorgeous colors... and love the fact that you did it in the garden among the greens... :D

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    1. Ooooo we always take the mortar and pestle out in the garden cos too much pounding might crack our house tiles ;)

      But it is a very nice change to be out in the gardens, enjoying ourselves.

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  16. Wow! You've even have homegrown sweet basil!! Awesome! I love pesto but my teenager sons will never give a hand even to blend it with a blender! LOL But they love eating it though. You've got there a future chef & yes, he's absolutely the cutest mini chef! :)

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    1. My basil is thriving, hopefully we get many more pestos out of it!

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  17. I would love to try these Daniel-made fresh pesto one of these days. Must be awesome! :)

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  18. I haven't had a chance to make homemade pesto yet, but I am planning to give it a try in the near future. Baby D is such a great helper! He's so adorable!

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  19. Little Daniel manage to do the pounding with the heavy mortar and pestle?

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  20. with those cute little hands at help,I am sure it was very yummy..loved it

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  21. I've always wanted to make my own pesto. Problem is I don't have 2 to 3 basil plants to spare. I only have 1 and need to use sparingly. So end up making do with store bought ones...

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  22. May I know where we can get raw pine nuts?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Yee Ling, u can get them from Jusco (either sold in tubs or you can get from the counter according to weight u wan).

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Please drop any comments or questions you may have here. Thank you so much for reading!

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