Pesto Recipe With Blanched Basil

Chef, cookbook author, restaurateur, and winemaker—there's not a lot of the Napa Valley culinary lifestyle scene untouched by Michael Chiarello. He ties together his varied interests in a lifestyle brand called NapaStyle. From his iconic Tra Vigne restaurant in the 1980s to his current Bottega, he has helped define wine country cuisine.

Today, Chiarello shares a pesto recipe with blanched basil that makes a colorful sidekick to a challenging yet highly rewarding pesto arancini recipe that happens to be a great way to put leftover risotto to use. Take it away, Chef...

This pesto recipe leads to a pesto that is vibrant in color as well as flavor. Powdered vitamin C—also called ascorbic acid—is my secret for keeping pesto a fresh, appetizing green. The herbs go in boiling water and then straight into an ice bath, so I like to use a large sieve or colander to transfer all the herbs in one smooth move. Pesto freezes well, so when basil is abundant, make a few batches to keep in your freezer for up to a month.

Pesto Recipe With Blanched Basil
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  • 3 cups Fresh Basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon 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.
  5. Let the herbs cool in the ice bath for 10 seconds. Remove the sieve, let drain, and then squeeze any water that you can from the herbs.
  6. Transfer them to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  7. In a blender, purée the herbs with the oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and ascorbic acid until well blended and somewhat smooth.
  8. Add the cheese, whir for a second or so to mix.
  9. Transfer the pesto to a bowl; taste and adjust the seasoning.
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