I first learned about pesto preparations during my apprenticeship at the Column’s Hotel in the 1984 to 1986 tenure. The menu included an appetizer of shrimp and pasta pesto Alfredo which was a very popular dish, it also made it to the lunch buffet on occasion. The heavy cream reduction sauce infused with fresh grated parmesan cheese and this fresh basil pesto was made to order. The basil pesto was prepared in advance in batches which typically would hold up for 2 to 3 days, it was made at least twice a week due to demand and popularity of the shrimp dish. Pesto was on the pantry prep list as one of the staple prep items and was done so often that I made the batches without recipe after the first couple of weeks. We also applied the pesto to other menu specials and buffet dishes on occasion, such as a pesto encrusted broiled salmon.
The Columns Hotel obtained all of their fresh herbs from Crickhollow Farms out of Mississippi and the weekly delivery also included farm raised rabbits, edible flowers and some organic baby vegetables and wild mushrooms as well.
This recipe is a slight modification from the one we prepared at the Columns Hotel, I’ve added the step of toasting the garlic and pine nuts before pulsing them in the food processor, this adds a deeper flavor profile to the pesto that brings out the nutty flavor of the garlic and nuts. If basil is not your preferred flavor you can substitute any leafy green herb or even greens such as arugula.
|4||Ounces||Garlic cloves, minced|
|1||Lb.||Fresh basil leaves, coarse chopped|
|1 – 2||Cups||Olive oil|
|1||Cup||Parmesan cheese, grated|
|To taste||Salt and pepper|
|1.||Sauté garlic and pine nuts in the 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender.|
|2.||Add the garlic and pine nut mixture into the bowl of a food processor or a blender, and then add the fresh chopped basil. Pulse and blend for a minute or so.|
|3.||Add the parmesan cheese and process or blend while adding the olive oil until a smooth paste forms.|
|4.||Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in air tight containers and chilled or refrigerated.|