This bright, herbaceous pesto makes pretty much everything taste better. More than just a booster for pasta, pesto is a truly versatile addition to any condiment arsenal, equally at home coating blistered green beans as it is swooshed under lamb meatballs with Greek yogurt or dolloped on top of scrambled eggs.
You will need a food processor—if you don’t have one, we highly recommend making this an excuse to get one; it’s a good investment that you’ll use forever and ever and ever—and a handful of ingredients like basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, and salt. The key for this classic pesto is to add the basil at the very end instead of blending everything all at once. That way the herbs will maintain their verdant color without bruising or losing flavor.
Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published August 21, 2018.
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Makes about 1½ cups
½ cup pine nuts
3 oz. Parmesan, grated (about ¾ cup)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
6 cups basil leaves (about 3 bunches)
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet (or quarter sheet pan), tossing once halfway through, until golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool. Add cheese and garlic and pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add basil and place the top back on. With the motor running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute. Season with salt.
Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Top with ½" oil to prevent browning. Store in a covered container (an extra drizzle of oil on top will help prevent oxidation) and chill.
If you want to use this with pasta, cook 12 oz. dried pasta (we prefer long pasta for pesto) in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
Place pesto and 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, in a large bowl. Add pasta and ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid. Using tongs, toss vigorously, adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until pasta is glossy and well coated with sauce. Season with salt.
Divide pasta among bowls. Top with finely grated Parmesan.