Thursday, January 17, 2013

Does besto pesto come from a Costco Wholesale warehouse?

Costco Wholesale says the basil in its Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto comes from Italy.


The blend of basil, cheese, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts called pesto adds a summer accent to dishes all year around.

After my first taste of pesto 40 years ago in Europe, I found a great blender recipe and enjoyed the basil-based sauce with pasta, fish and egg dishes.

The Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto "uses only Genovese Basil grown in the Liguria region of Italy, which is a narrow strip of mountainous land bordering the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding the city of Genoa [where pesto originated],"  according to the label.

A 22-ounce bottle, enough for 2 pounds of pasta, was $7.99.

A teaspoon of Costco pesto on an egg-white omelet.

The blender recipe from chef Marcella Hazan calls for 2 cups of fresh basil leaves -- packed -- and the result is a great-tasting pesto.

The Kirkland Signature pesto is fragrant and tastes good, but the first ingredient listed is a "basil blend" of leaves, oil and cheese.

I haven't tried Costco's pesto with the imported artisan egg tagliatelle noodles I found at my Hackensack warehouse store last week, but as of now, I give the edge to Hazan.

Of course, Costco's pesto will have to do until basil appears in the market or starts growing in my garden again.

Here is Hazan's recipe for making pesto in a blender, minus salt and butter.

She used two kinds of cheese, but I use only grated Pecorino Romano, a sheep's milk cheese.

I use the "Chop" setting on my blender -- a slow speed that allows me to push down the basil, garlic and other ingredients as the blender worked.


Enough for 1 pound or 6 servings of pasta

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a heavy knife blade and peeled

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Put the pine nuts, garlic cloves, basil and extra-virgin olive oil in the blender and mix at slow speed.  Stop from time to time and scrape the ingredients down toward the bottom of the blender cup with a rubber spatula.  

2.  When the ingredients are evenly blended, pour into a bowl and beat in the two grated cheeses by hand. (This is not much work, and it results in more interesting texture and better flavor than you get when you mix in the cheese in the blender.)  If you do not want to use the pesto immediately, put it into a closed container and freeze it before you add the cheese.

3. Before spooning the pesto over the pasta, add to it a tablespoon or so of the hot water in which the pasta has boiled.  Do not heat the pesto before you add it to the pasta.

Note: The best pesto has a great deal of basil in it. I use leaves and stems, and pack a measuring cup with it. The more basil, the better. I've also added mint, rosemary, arugula, parsley and other herbs, but think basil makes the best pesto.

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