Basil has an affinity with smooth and savory medium-strength red wines.


  • 1 Cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste


In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, garlic, and pine nuts, and pulse on and off to chop and mix the ingredients. Add 1/4 cup of the oil, process for 1 minute, and then add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the cheese and process thoroughly to make a smooth sauce. Taste for salt (a pinch or two may bring out the flavor of the cheese). The sauce should be more of a liquid than a puree; if you need to add more olive oil, put the sauce into a bowl and whisk the oil in by hand, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Pesto sauce originated in Liguria, where an incredible profusion of herbs perfumes the hillside air; in the open-air markets of the towns, enormous bunches of basil sell for less than a dollar, and the locals put it in everything-I've even had basil ice cream, which is odd but delicious. These days, versions of the sauce in America and other parts of Italy tend to be rich and heavy on the cheese, but this is the way they still make it in Sestre Levante. A nice touch is to toast 1 tablespoon of pine nuts in a pie pan for 4 or 5 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven, then sprinkle them over the finished dish as a garnish. Wine recommendation: rosso de montalcino, dolcetto, barbera d'alba, valpolicella, california sangiovese, oregon or california pinot noir.

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Submitted 8/12/06.
Source: The Perfect Match, Chronicle Books
Submitted By: B Smith

Hearty Pesto Sauce