If you have ever had freshly made pesto, you already know there is no going back to the store bought variety. I am a purist when it comes to pesto- I like to make it by hand, the way my grandmother did. Part of that for me is the fact that I enjoy spending time in the kitchen whisking, chopping, kneading and the like. I get more satisfaction out of cooking if I take the time to prepare things by hand. Granted, sometimes time does not allow such leisure, but whenever possible I take advantage of it.
As with any food, the quality of your ingredients will define your results. Make sure to use freshly grated parmesan cheese and the best extra virgin olive oil you can find. The pesto keeps covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but it's best the day it is prepared. Use a mezzaluna or the largest knife you have to do the chopping. I like adding everything in stages which yields little bits and pieces of everything in different sizes, more rustic- instead of a homogenized paste like you would get by using a food processor.
Fresh Basil Pesto
1 bunch basil leaves, approximately 2 cups loosely packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup pine nuts
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1. Stack half of the basil leaves together and begin to chop, add some garlic, pine nuts and parmessan, continue chopping while adding a bit more garlic, basil, pine nuts and parmesan. Adding the ingedients in stages will keep the pesto a bit more rustic and chunky.
Chop until a thick chunky paste is formed.
2. Press pesto into a small bowl and cover with a couple of tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Stir before serving.