In Search of…the Perfect Pasta Sauce No 4



Although I’ve made pesto many times before, I’ve generally haphazardly chucked the ingredients into the food processor and left it to chance. Despite the results usually being good, I thought it was about time I consulted the mama of authentic Italian home cooking, Marcella Hazan and see if she had an angle on this classic sauce. And indeed she did … double cheeses and butter.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: none
Skill level: easy
Serves: 2
Recipe: ‘The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’ by Marcella Hazan


  • basil leaves – 50g
  • 1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
  • pine nuts – 1½ tbsp
  • extra virgin olive oil – 4 tbsp
  • butter – softened to room temperature – 25g
  • parmigiano reggiano – finely grated – 25g
  • romano cheese – finely grated – 1tbsp
  • coarse sea salt

Quickly soak the basil leaves in water and gently (but thoroughly) pat them dry with kitchen towel.


Put the basil, oil, pine nuts and a good pinch of salt into the food processor and process to a smooth creamy consistency. (If wanted, the pesto can be frozen at this stage.)

pine nut
Incidentally, have you seen the price of pine nuts these days? They’ve always been costly but struth, pound for pound they are now worth more that life itself.

Transfer to a bowl and thoroughly mix in the two grated cheeses.

Next mix in the softened butter.

Taste and season if necessary.

When serving with pasta, loosen with a spoon or two of the hot pasta water

Dogs can’t look up


Verdict: Once again another excellent recipe from Marcella Hazan – it’s almost as if she knows what she’s talking about – she ought to write a book. A perfect pesto with (unsurprisingly) a buttery finish.

Drink: A variety of 6 for £5 Polish beers.

Entertainment:My Wrongs #8245-8249 And 117‘ on DVD. A very short film directed by Chris Morris about a troubled man referred to as ‘Him’, a talking Doberman called Rothko, a decapitated duck, a kidnapped baby and a Routemaster destined for ‘Shit Off’. 10 minutes of Chris Morris’ warped genius. Watch.

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