Blanched Basil Pesto

basil pesto

Recipe: Blanched Basil Pesto

Summary: From Chef Michael Chiarello’s book Bottega


  • 3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (see Chef’s note at bottom)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. fine salt, preferably ground sea or gray salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. powdered ascorbic acid
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Set up a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.
  3. Place the basil and parsley leaves in a sieve or colander that fits inside the pan. Lower the sieve full of herbs into the boiling water, and use a spoon to push the leaves under so the herbs cook evenly.
  4. Blanch for 15 seconds, then transfer the sieve to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let the herbs cool in the ice bath for 10 seconds.
  5. Remove the sieve, let drain, and then squeeze any water from the herbs. Transfer them to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  6. In a blender, purée the herbs with the oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper and ascorbic acid until well-blended and somewhat smooth.
  7. Add the cheese and whir for 1 second or so to mix.
  8. Transfer the pesto to a bowl; taste and adjust the seasoning.
  9. Press plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto to keep it from turning brown and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for it for up to 1 month.

Quick notes

Chef’s note: Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over low heat, shaking the pan frequently. Heat for just 1 to 2 minutes; as soon as you smell the fragrance of the pine nuts, slide the nuts out of the pan and onto a plate so they don’t burn.

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