As with a lot of great inventions, we have the ancient Romans to thank for the Pesto sauce we know and love today. Back before basil even arrived in Europe, Roman cooks would make a sauce by pounding walnuts, cheese, garlic and olive oil together. Once Basil was introduced to Italy via India, the rest, as they say, was history. France went wild for basil and its many culinary uses, too – their take on pesto sauce came to be known as Pistou. Try it in our Piedmont Chicken, and then make it at home! Any of the variations below will add some fresh summer flavor to pasta, roasted veggies, or any grilled meat of your choice.
Basic Pesto Sauce
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts or walnuts
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- Combine basil, nuts and garlic in a food processor and process until fine.
- With the motor running, slowly add olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine.
This recipe yields one cup. Use right away, or store in the refrigerator!
For a peppery bite, swap out the basil for arugula.
For a Peruvian twist, swap out half the basil for spinach, and Queso Fresco for Pecorino.