June 5, 2008

Ina's Perfect Pesto

One of my best friends used to work at Macaroni Grill as a summer job. She had a day job as well so she would run from one to the next and it left little time in between- so she just ate Macaroni Grill bread and pesto for dinner every night. I'm not going to link to her blog, though, because you'd be disgusted how thin she is for having eaten that for everyday for a whole summer. Anyways, I never knew they had pesto there for your bread... but since Robyn gave us her insider tip we never go without asking for some to dip our bread into. It is SO good.

I've tried the recipe from Everyday Food and a couple others but when I made Ina's Pesto for next week's Barefoot Bloggers event, I knew I'd found a winner. This is easily as good as Macaroni Grill's- easy to whip up (even in my junky, tiny Chefmate mini-food processor), garlicky, and tasty.

This pesto tastes awesome dipped in crusty bread, spread on a sandwich, or served with pasta. I cooked up some Penne (that awesome new healthy Barilla), browned some spinach chicken sausage, tossed in some sauteed onions, grape tomatoes, arugula, fontina cheese, and about 3/4 cup of the pesto.

Recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves) (I only used 4 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil (I only used about 3/4 to 1 cup)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups


  1. You are a lifesaver! I've got a ton of basil coming up and really didn't want it to go to waste. Now I can make some of Ina's pesto. And probably give away many jars of Ina's pesto. ;)

  2. Walnuts sound like they'd be great in pesto. Yum.

  3. This pesto is SO good! I'm so glad I made some before trying it with the pasta recipe. I think I could have crusty bread and pesto every day for dinner as well :)