How to be awesome at making pesto

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

You can bring the style and flavor of old-world Italia to your kitchen by creating pasta's favorite companion -- fresh basil pesto. In the world of sauces, pesto is fairly simple to make, and it'll leave your guests smiling. So get ready to roll up your sleeves and give that wise guy Lagasse a run for his lira.

Get the Goods

Pesto doesn't require many ingredients. You'll need 2 cups of fresh, packed basil (the dried variety won't cut it); 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, 3 finely minced cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. You'll also need some type of electric gadget to chop it all together.

Leaves alone

Since the basil is fresh, there will be plenty of stems to deal with. This is the only tedious part of the process. Pick the stems and buds from the basil leaves and discard them; all you want are green, healthy-looking leaves. Run some cold water over them to make sure they're clean.

Chop chop

You can use a blender or a chopper, but the ideal culinary machine for a job like this is a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic and olive oil and let the blending begin. Once the mixture starts to take a pasty form, start stuffing small portions of basil leaves into the processor, and chop them until they reach the same paste-like consistency.

Be cheesy

For the final step, add the grated Parmesan cheese and set the processor to blend. Presto, you have pesto! It makes for a great linguine or fettuccini topper and also goes well with chicken. If you plan on freezing your sauce, leave the cheese out of the mixture before it goes into the freezer, since most cheeses don't freeze well. Just add it once the sauce is thawed and almost ready to serve.