It really does, no? I think so. I can think of few ingredients that have so much potential inside them to change whole dishes, usually for the better. It is the Touche eclat
of the food world. Boring grilled chicken, dull takeout pizza? Not any more. Yesterday´s sorry looking vegetable soup? Suddenly perked up beyond recognition. In sandwiches and panini, I have yet to meet a piece of ham or cheese that wouldn´t welcome a kick of basil. And as for vegetarian sandwiches, well, I think grilled aubergines just scream out loud to be brushed with pesto.
And there´s the pasta sauce use, too, where it ranks in my all time top ten. But where it comes first is at the top of the fast food top ten.
Unless you are an like an Italian grandmother , or you decide to gather pinenuts in your garden, which I once did and wouldn´t recommend, making pesto is a wheeze. It is my belief that people who bang on about pestles and mortars are very wrong to do so. They make it seem like a big deal, and this can be offputting to newcomers, who go through life in a sad twilit world of inferior pesto jars. And that´s just mean. Everyone should be made to make pesto even once, just so they can see that they can.
Now that summer´s almost here and there are big bunches in the market, priced like herbs and not jewels, there´s no excuse not to make some. I won´t give a recipe, because there are so many out there, and it really is a matter of taste. But just a few tips.
1- If you´ve never made it before, start with the real thing, and leave the experiments with other herbs and other nuts for later.
2-Make twice the amount you think you´ll need. Pesto keeps for weeks if properly cared for, which brings us to
3- Store it in small jars, the narrower the better. Make sure that whenver you take some out you scrape down everything very well, and cover it with a film of olive oil. That way, no air will get at it and it won´t turn black and nasty.
4- Put a few parsley leaves in the mix. The clorophile in the parsley also helps the fight against rust. Not so much that you can ignore step 3, though.
5- Start off with less garlic than specified. Not everyone likes that raw burning taste. You can always add more later.