A simple recipe for basil rosemary pesto with truffle and clove. This is a seriously decadent and velvety pesto that is perfect for hearty pasta or meats. Is your pesto always bitter? I have a solution for that as well. Read why it happens!
As summer comes to an end, there are probably a lot of basil plants out there waiting to be used up. There’s a ton of websites out there that say to make anything but pesto, but pesto–when done well–is so good. And when you add some savory ingredients such as rosemary, truffle and clove, you end up with a heartier, incredibly flavorful pesto that is hearty enough to use on meats like pork or lamb, but which would also shine on their own with a simple durable pasta, such as rigatoni. If you were to make some with anchovies, lemon and grated cheese, you might join the pro-pesto movement forever.
By the way, if you don’t have truffle oil, you can simple omit this without a problem.
Does your pesto always taste bitter?
A lot of people complain that whenever they make pesto, it always turns out bitter. I’ve got an answer for you here as to why that’s happening! Many sources on the interwebs state that it’s your olive oil gone rancid. In fact, it’s actually that the tiniest bits of natural oils (um, molecules?) are coated in fatty acids that surround the bitter insides. Ever notice that oils are found in fruit nuts, olives, and other bitter things? Basically (pun intended), those fatty acids are what we sense through taste and texture, and we’re protected from ever experiencing that bitterness which lurks deep within a seemingly smooth and subtle exterior. You know, like people.
When we stick ‘basic’ items in a blender or food processor, we agitate them so much that we actually separate those fatty acids from the inner molecules. On one hand, this redistribution of fatty acids is part of what allows for emulsification, but on the other hand, we expose all of that bitterness to our palates. When making a fresh herb and garlic centric dish such as pesto, there’s little room to hide this bitter flavor. Luckily, there’s a really easy fix:
Blend everything except for the oil when making pesto.
If your nuts are also quite old, you may want to crush those in a mortar and pestle as well. This will ensure that your oils stay in tact and your pesto has a smooth, herby flavor instead of tasting like a freaking rubber band. So for the record, the last step should always be to stir the oil into an already blended mixture of ingredients by hand. It also looks less cloudy, and delivers a beautiful flavor and texture. Here’s the recipe for my basil rosemary pesto with truffle, clove and parmesan.
And – I haven’t shared a song in a while! So here are a few I’ve had on repeat as of late.
Basil Rosemary Pesto with Truffle + Clove
- 2 cups "packed" fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- About 3 tablespoons truffle oil*
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Sea salt and black pepper
- *About that truffle oil: Truffle oil varies wildly depending on the quality. Some are incredibly pungent, and some barely give off a truffle flavor. You will need to gauge how much oil to add depending on what kind of truffle oil you have. I have instructions for this below.
- In a food processor, add the basil, rosemary, garlic, clove, crushed red pepper, black pepper, parmesan, and pine nuts (if you are not crushing those by hand - see blog post). Blend well until you have a desired consistency.
- Then add the olive oil and pine nuts (if crushed by hand), and stir using ONLY A SPOON. Do not blend again with the food processor.
- Gradually, at about 1 teaspoon at a time, add the truffle oil and mix with a spoon until you have an amount of truffle flavor that you like.
- Finally season with salt to taste. Add black pepper if needed. Garnish with pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
- If you allow this to sit and 'mix' for a day in the fridge, it will only taste better. Goes great with hearty pastas, anchovies, chicken, lamb or pork, or in a risotto.
- Serve with heavy red wine such as chianti or cabernet.
- You can freeze this!