Monday, August 31, 2009

Aromatic Herbs in Italian Cooking 2 : Basil

Basil is absolutely essential for Italian cooking We can't imagine a summer without fresh pesto.
It’s the quintessential Mediterranean herb, and is widely used in Italian kitchens. Consumed fresh, it adds fragrance and fresh flavor to pasta dishes, soups, vegetables, fish, and poultry. And of course, basil is the essential ingredient in Pesto alla Genovese. Tomatoes and basil are a natural match: basil finds a happy home a top simple Margherita Pizzas or fresh mozzarella and tomato salads well known as “Caprese”.
When using fresh basil, never chop or slice basil with a knife - the leaves will blacken and lose their flavor. Instead, tear the delicate leaves with your fingers. This is also why pesto sauce should be prepared with a mortar and pestle rather than in a blender.

Pesto alla Genovese

36 leaves of fresh basil
1 spoonful of pecorino
1 spoonful Parmesan
A handful of pine-nuts,
Olive oil
Place the basil in the mortar, add the pine-nuts (which have first been toasted in the oven), a clove of garlic and a pinch of coarse salt. Begin to beat these ingredients with the pestle, crushing them against the sides of the mortar, gradually adding the two types of cheese. Pound until the mixture has a nice green colour. Then pour it into a bowl and, continuing to mix, gradually add half a glass of oil. Continue mixing until you obtain a paste.. Add the pesto to the pasta, diluting it with a large spoonful of water from the cooking pot.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing how, with the same ingredients, everybody's pesto turns out looking (and tasting) different. My husband's is more creamy than mine (i think he abounds with the oil), mind's kinda chunky, and my father in law's is very dark green and oily. Weird! Yours looks most like mine.