Daniel Catalaa

Pasta al pesto

This recipe yields enough sauce for two meals with 4 diners (i.e. two pounds of pasta)


  • Basil, bunches x4
    (use tender, light green, young leaves from the mild and sweet 'Genovese' basil variety)
  • Pine nuts, 200 gr
    (use thin, slender, and buttery European variety rather than bigger, crunchier Chinese variety).
  • Garlic, clove, x1
  • Olive oil, 250 ml
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, 350 gr
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water, 100 ml


  1. Prepare pasta water: Start boiling salted water to cook the pasta (about 500 ml of water for every 200 gr of pasta).
  2. Mise en place: After washing the basil, pluck the leaves off the stems. Discard the stems and keep the leaves. Grate the parmesan cheese and chop the garlic.
  3. Blend garlic and basil into oil: Add the olive oil and half the water to the blender. Turn the blender on high and drop in the clove of garlic. Through the small opening in the blender lid start stuffing in the basil leaves. If necessary, as you add the leaves, every so often shut off the blender and push the leaves down using a wooden spoon.
  4. Blend in solids: After the basil leaves have been blended into the oil, add the cheese and salt, and blend to mix. Add the nuts and blend just enough to break down the nuts into small chunks (to preserve some texture).
  5. Adjust consistency: If the pesto is too thick, add in some of the remaining water (instead of additional oil) until the desired consistency is reached. The pesto should be thick but still run, like a jam.
  6. Cook the pasta: Drop 500 grams of pasta into the boiling water and start cooking. After the pasta is cooked, drain it, pour it back into the pot, and return it to low heat. Add about to of the pesto made and stir it for 2-3 minutes on low heat until the pasta is evenly coated. Plate and serve. Buon appetito!.
  7. Serve without additional cheese: After plating the 'pasta al pesto' do not sprinkle cheese on top, the sauce itself has plenty of cheese and should not necessitate the addition of more grated parmesan.
  8. Store the sauce: Store the pesto in the refrigerator covered with Saran wrap or a film of olive oil to avoid forming a crust on the exposed surface. It will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks.