Pesto is the ideal Italian sauce when you want something different with pasta or chicken—or just about anything, really. We’ve tried (and loved) arugula pesto and parsley pesto, but we always come back to the classic basil version. There’s something that just feels right about the way the basil plays off the buttery pine nuts, salty Parmesan, and licks of garlic. And it’s perfect with gnocchi.
1 1/2 cups (375 mL)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) pine nuts
- 2 cups (500 mL) fresh basil, stems removed, chilled
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
- Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid burning, about 8 minutes. Watch closely, as pine nuts have a high oil content and can burn quite easily. Cool completely.
- Place the bowl and blades of a food processor, as well as the pine nuts, in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. (Keeping all the ingredients cold will ensure a bright green pesto.) Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil in the food processor, and blend until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.
- With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube to emulsify. Season with more salt and freshly ground pepper, if necessary.
- Keeps for 5 days in the refrigerator.
To serve with gnocchi
Have ready 1/2 cup (125 mL) of shaved Parmesan to serve with the gnocchi. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter. After you’ve boiled and drained the gnocchi, add to the butter. Cook until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside. Add the desired amount of pesto to coat the gnocchi. If the sauce is too dense or the gnocchi seem too dry, just add some of the gnocchi cooking water as you would with pasta water. Transfer to serving plates, and garnish with shaved Parmesan.
Vanessa Gianfrancesco’s recipe from the One World Kitchen series, brought to you by Gusto TV.
Go to oneworldkitchen.ca