Cooking & EatingThe best pesto? For that you have come to the right place with Mario Kocatepe, restaurant owner of Da Mario in Berkel en Rodenrijs and Janine Jansen, co-author of cookbooks such as Beautiful Mediterranean. Both experts give tips to give your pesto that little bit extra.
There are infinitely many different pesto recipes, but the classic pesto is of course pesto genovese. Basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and Parmesan play the main role, but everyone makes it a little different. Italians don’t always agree on exactly how to make an iconic dish.
Whatever recipe you follow, according to Kocatepe, the most important thing is to keep tasting your pesto as you prepare it. “You do this after every step,” says the restaurant owner. It should not be too salty and not too bland. It has to be just right.”
Mortar or mixer?
Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson use far too little olive oil in their pesto in my opinion
Before we dive into the ingredients, it’s important to determine which utensils you will use to prepare the pesto. “In my opinion, pesto tastes best when I make it myself and use fresh ingredients,” says Jansen. “In Italy, a lot of people work with a mortar and pestle to thoroughly grind all ingredients. I think that’s a romantic idea. it gives the basil a very intense taste and all oils are released well.”
Kocatepe understands the preference for a mortar and pestle, but chooses to work with a mixer. ,,That goes a bit faster and still tastes perfect.”
Basil and olive oil
First of all, make sure you use fresh basil. ,,You must still be able to smell it well”, says Jansen. Only use the leaves, the stems of the plant can give your pesto a bitter taste.
As far as Jansen is concerned, there can never be enough basil and olive oil in a pesto. “I’m a big fan of Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli’s pesto,” she says. “It uses a lot of basil and olive oil. You can really taste the oil in the pesto. Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson use far too little olive oil in their pesto in my opinion.”
Not just any olive oil is suitable for making pesto. “Make sure you use olive oil that is specifically intended for cold preparations, so extra virgin,” Kocatepe tips.
Pine nuts and cheese
Don’t skimp on your pine nuts, says Jansen. “I often find pine nuts in large discount bags of lower quality and can give dishes a metallic aftertaste,” she says. “Often different types are mixed. The culprit is a certain small and greyish kind of kernel. Again, it is important to buy good quality ingredients.You don’t have to look hard for that, good pine nuts are also available in the supermarket.”
When it comes to which cheese belongs in the pesto, Jansen and Kocatepe disagree. Janine normally also uses Parmesan cheese, but if it is not there, old pecorino can also be used. But according to Kocatepe, there is only room for one cheese in the pesto. ,, Only use Parmesan cheese and always grate it yourself! A bag of grated cheese is not good enough. Pecorino has a completely different taste than Parmesan cheese and in my opinion does not fit at all.”
So the mission is mainly to find out for yourself how you like your pesto the best. Experiment with the basic recipe below and its variations. This is how you make maak your perfect pesto genovese.
A bunch of basil: Only use the leaves and not the stems. Do you like a strong basil flavour, just like Jansen? Feel free to add a little more basil.
Two tablespoons of pine nuts: Before mashing, you can brown the pine nuts in the pan first, giving the pesto a slightly roasted taste.
Fifty grams of grated cheese: Just like Kocatepe, do you only go for Parmesan cheese, or do you sometimes use old pecorino, just like Jansen?
Five tablespoons of olive oil: Do you like to taste the olive oil back in your pesto? Then add some more.
Three cloves of garlic and some salt: Gradually add more garlic and salt. Keep tasting constantly until you reach the balance you like best.
Finish it: Kocatepe likes to add a little more pepper and lemon juice to finish off his pesto.
Low-carb pasta pesto from home cook Janny:
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss a thing from the stars.