So we planted six, yes six, basil plants this year with big plans. Big Basil-y, Garlic-y, Nutty, Cheese-y Pesto Plans. No, no, I don't own a food processor. Never have. And earlier this year I shattered the glass pitcher of our blender. No, no, we haven't replaced it yet. And, oh yes, our basil plants have all thrived.
Trust the internet, the cookbooks or the television and you'd think making pesto without either of these supposed requisite items impossible. So what's a girl to do? Take a page from an Italian grandmother's cookbook: Get out some hand-powered kitchen tools and elbow grease. It's vintage pesto!
The results? I added a side of pan-roasted Brussels sprouts (in bacon grease of course) and the 4-year-old declared, "Mommy, you make a mean dinner." Sounds like success to me.
No special requirements for this recipe, just a sturdy cutting board and sharp knife. A hand-crank nut grinder comes in handy to kick-start the nuts, but you don't need it. Because the ingredients haven't been emulsified by power blades, the texture and taste are more distinct, brighter, and richer. Totally worth the little bit of extra time it takes to do it by hand.
3 cloves garlic
3 loose cups basil leaves (just the leaves)
1/8 cup roasted almonds (or walnuts or pine nuts)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Finely chop the garlic. Take the basil in batches and finely chop in with the garlic. Add the roasted almonds and finely chop to combine. Chop in the grated cheese and press the mixture into a small bowl. Cover with the olive oil. Stir to thoroughly combine just before use.