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This almond basil pesto sauce recipe is full of flavour, a regular and favourite in our family, and something I usually have in my fridge or freezer for a quick fix meal. Its thick texture is particularly good at clinging to pasta, ensuring you get a mouthful of deliciousness with each bite.
Pesto derives from the Italian verb pestare, which means 'to pound' or 'to crush' and refers to how the sauce was traditionally made, by pounding and crushing herbs and garlic together. It comes from the Latin root of pestle (pistillum, which means 'pounder'), which is a club-shaped implement used for pounding or crushing things in a mortar. So, pesto is literally something that is pounded using a mortar and pestle, and this is how pesto sauce used to be made.
The traditional basil pesto sauce recipe originates in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy, and is also known as pesto alla genovese. It consists of pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, hard cheese and, of course, fresh basil. Basil, with is sharp and peppery scent, is famous for growing in Liguria. Nowadays, however, pesto sauce is made using a variety of ingredients, although green basil pesto still tends to be more common.
The following basil pesto sauce recipe uses almonds instead of pine nuts, making it lighter in texture. The almonds are first lightly toasted, bringing a nutty aroma to the sauce. Pine nuts are quite oily and rich, becoming almost creamy when crushed.
It's important to use the freshest basil you can find, as well as the best olive oil, as there's not much more to pesto than that! Aged Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) adds depth of flavour, and fresh garlic provides spiciness and gives the sauce a kick; it's all finished with a twist of fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper seasoning. The formula is very simple, but definitely one where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
We absolutely adore this almond basil pesto sauce recipe, and it's a frequent request in our household. Fortunately, it's quick and easy to make at home using the modern conveniences of a food processor or blender -- mortar and pestle strictly optional!
Although we tend to serve this with pasta for a quick meal, pesto isn't just for pasta! We also use it to top fish, or as a spread on toasted bread; why not also try it on pizza or chicken? Be as creative as you like!
I have been batch cooking and serving this pesto with mini pasta since my children were babies, and it has saved me from many a desperate 'what do I feed the kids?!' situation. Years on, and I'm still using this almond basil pesto recipe and making it in ever larger batches. It keeps beautifully in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge, or freeze it to keep it for longer.
Try this sauce in our Cod with Pesto recipe.
Variations to the recipe include:
Here's what you'll need to make this almond basil pesto sauce recipe:
(Click here to jump straight to the recipe)
100g fresh basil
70g Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano if you can find it)
2 medium cloves of garlic
200ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
And here's what you'll need to do:
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