I’m not sure when or how this happened, but I always thought I needed to have a food processor or blender to make basil pesto. Not that using the food processor is such a hard thing, but something about the heat wave had me really lazy and the thought of moving my processor and then cleaning it afterwards was too much. My basil plant was getting out of control though, so I did what I usually do when I need inspiration. I turned to Google. I searched for “pesto without a food processor.” Not surprisingly (nowadays), I got a few relevant hits and one was from a great website, 101 Cookbooks. She called it “Mak[ing] Pesto like an Italian Grandmother.” That reminded me that people have been making pesto for hundreds of years and obviously, back in the day, they didn’t have the convenience of a food processor to do their chopping for them. Inspired by 101 Cookbook’s Pesto Recipe, I cut some basil leaves, got some garlic cloves and started chopping. The most helpful tip was to do the chopping in 3 parts. I didn’t have a mezzaluna or a curved knife, but I honed my knife really well and found that it worked just fine.
After some chopping, I was shocked to see that my basil and garlic was starting to resemble the pesto that I’ve gotten with a food processor. I actually liked this method more because I could control how chopped everything was. I prefer the basil, garlic and nuts (I ended up using pecans), a little coarser and doing the chopping by hand, I could easily do that.
I thought I would be chopping forever, but it went surprisingly fast and the only time I felt the heat in the kitchen was when I was standing in front of the stove, watching the pasta.
Give this a try next time – I think you’ll be surprised at how quick and easy it is.