Take 1 bunch of Basil and pick off the leaves, leaving all the stems behind. Rinse the leaves well and pat dry with a tea towel. Gently roast a small handfull of pine nuts in butter or margarine over a low heat. Keep them moving in the pan and as soon as you see them start to turn a pale brown colour, remove from the heat immediately. They go from brown to burnt black in about 5 seconds. You have been warned! =)
You can also use peanuts, or cashew nuts if you like, or don’t have pine nuts. I’m not a big fan of peanuts, but cashews are pretty good! Get the roasted ones, not the raw ones, and if they’re salted, then don’t add any extra salt to the pesto.
Put the basil leaves in a food processor (or, it will taste even better if you have heavy stone mortar and pestle) and give them a quick whizz to chop them up. add the pine nuts and a clove or two of garlic. As the garlic is raw, it will be pretty strong, so go easy, you can always add more later.
Pulse it all a few times to get it mixed and then, with the food processor on a low speed, drizzle in some olive oil to make a thick paste. Sprinkle in a pinch of sea salt flakes.
Next, finely grate a couple of handfulls of parmesan cheese (I like it pretty cheesy!) and add this to the mixture and process a bit more.
Lastly, with the food processor on a low speed again, drizzle in more olive oil until it’s a relatively thick paste – not as thick as, say, peanut butter, but not too thin, although it’s entirely up to you…
Keep scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl, to make sure that everything’s all mixed evenly, and whizz it until it’s all blended smoothly.
Make sure you taste it at various stages through making it, to keep it all on track – however it can take a fair amount of variation and still turn out good pesto.
You can also experiment with adding other things to it, like substitute some coriander instead of basil, change the pine nuts for something else, use a different hard grating cheese in place of the parmesan.