Preparation time: 10 minutes in a processor, 30 minutes by hand
4 packs basil, or 1 large basil plant, leaves only
25g pine kernels
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp granular sea salt
50g freshly grated Parmesan
50g freshly grated Pecorino
100-200ml extra virgin olive oil
Wash and dry the basil leaves. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the pine kernels lightly for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
If you're using a mortar, pound the garlic with the salt to make a soft mush. Pound in the pine nuts, then work in the basil leaves, 2-3 at a time, with a circular movement of the pestle, until all is reduced to a silky paste. (The mixture can be frozen at this point). Work in the cheeses, then beat in the olive oil with a wooden spoon until you have a thick, dense sauce. Add more or less oil depending on the texture you like.
If you're using a processor, drop all the ingredients in and blitz to a luscious green sauce.
To serve, cook a pasta of your choice according to packet instructions. Before dressing the pasta, dilute the pesto with a tablespoonful of pasta cooking water.
To store the pesto, pour into a jar, float a layer of olive oil on top, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.
My favourite way to eat pesto is freshly made and on linguini. I sometimes cook some penne or fusilli and toss in cold leftover chicken meat and pesto for a quick pasta salad. It makes for quick and nutritious lunch.