I really try not to purchase kitchen tools that can’t be used regularly. My ice cream maker attachment was an exception and my mandolin was another. A mandolin that I can’t quite figure out how to use. The molcajete, though, was said to be the way to perfect pesto and now I have to agree. The consistency is different and to my surprise, a step above pesto made in a food processor. Don’t get me wrong, pesto in all its forms is good, but I think you should try it in a molcajete sometime.
There’s something beautiful about manually creating this pesto and stopping every so often to check the consistency as the scent of fresh basil becomes stronger. Your senses and instincts are your best tools in the kitchen. My thoughts wander to Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows where traditional food is pounded in various interpretations of a mortar and pestle. Usually it’s the most humble food like life-giving porridge in Africa or masa harina in Latin America. I can’t help but feel gratitude for everything I have.
The first time I made pesto this way, I was feeling things out and tossed a few spoonfuls with some hot pasta for an easy weeknight meal. My thoughts were on the process of making pesto in a molcajete and if I’d change anything the next time around as I set two bowls of pesto pasta on the table. I didn’t even think to elicit Marc for a reaction to the new pesto. On first bite he told me the pesto was delicious and better than usual. His comment snapped me out of my absent-minded recipe daze and I tried a forkful to see for myself. The texture and flavor is just better.
Salsa and guacamole is excellent in a molcajete, too, if you need justification (like I did) to buy this new kitchen tool. I’m sure there are other uses I need to discover as well. Remember those pita pizzas I made? I spread a thin layer of this molcajete pesto on mini pitas and topped them with cheese and seasonal vegetables.
I’ve included food processor directions in the recipe notes if you’d still like to make this recipe, but don’t have a molcajete or mortar and pestle. I’ve noticed that the food processor version requires more extra virgin olive oil, so add up to 1/2 cup if you’re going that route.