How to Make a Simple Basil Pesto Pasta: Philosophy and Cooking – Episode 1


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    Published on Jan 25, 2022
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    Making a Simple Basil Pesto Pasta

    In this video, I will be making a simple basil pesto pasta sprinkled with some philosophical musings. This is not a normal cooking show. In this cooking show of sorts, I reflect on my philosophical thoughts whilst I cook and edit the video.

    I am playing around with my old Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens on a Nikon D3200. I am not a professional chef neither a videographer. This is just some experiments! Maybe you like the cooking and philosophy aspect.

    You will need the following ingredients:

    • basil leaves
    • garlic
    • salt and pepper
    • olive oil
    • hard cheese
    • pasta
    • pasta water

    Below is the script of the video if you prefer reading.

    Picking Fresh Basil

    I would reckon that most good basil pesto’s start with home grown or good quality basil. I am obviously biased in this position as I am growing my own basil. Psychologically, I would argue, this makes sense. I get rewarded with something I accomplished. I did not merely go to the shops to buy the produce. I actually produced the produce.

    Making Pesto in a Mortar and Pestle

    Some people find it more fulfilling to produce things with their hands. One can make the argument that in our modern lives everything is made for us by either other people in factories or by machines. Making something with your own hands, in a very loose sense, can constitute a resistance to the automation or transference of work. However, this is a video on how to make basil pesto and not a political piece, but it is after all philosophy and cooking. Growing, making and cooking your own food can represent a type of taking back control.

    So, start by grinding a clove of garlic in the mortar and pestle with salt and pepper. The salt and pepper will provide the necessary friction to create a type of garlic paste. Proceed to grind the basil leaves. Do not cut them smaller. If you want to make the pieces smaller, break them into with your fingers. Apparently, this creates a more aromatic pesto. I guess by tearing the leaves you bruise the leaves which releases the aromas we associate with basil. If you merely cut the leaves, it will not bruise them.

    After you sufficiently ground the basil leaves into a pulp, the emulsification process begins. Pesto is essentially an emulsification of the basil pulp, which might be seen as water, and olive oil. Two added ingredients aid this emulsification: nuts and cheese. Traditionally pine nuts will be used with a hard cheese, but I only had some almonds. Crush the almonds, add the cheese, and then add the oil. As I am making this pesto for a pasta, the emulsification at this stage is not that important. Mix the pesto until all the ingredients are mixed together.

    I am not calling this pesto authentic. There are all sorts of battles on the internet about authentic dishes and sauces. For me, if I want to go back to existential philosophy, it is best to live authentically. That is, I would live in accordance with authenticity if I do not try and conform to societal norms. How beautifully contradictory: by making an in-authentic pesto, according to societal norms, I will live more authentically.

    Prepare the Pasta

    Cook the pasta according to your standards. We can get very philosophical about this. Essentially, it boils down to the subjective pleasurable experience of the person who eats the pasta. If you cook pasta in the fashion you like, there will be no problem. We should petition pasta makers to add to their cooking time the following: Optimal cooking time, probably 8 to 9 minutes, but cook it to your preference. No one can tell you to like al dente pasta, but no one can tell you not to prefer al dente.

    Mix the Pesto and Pasta

    There is no two ways about it, mixing pasta produces a wonderful sound in the kitchen. Jokes aside, the real emulsification starts now. Mix in the basil pesto, pasta water and olive oil. There should be enough heat in the pasta and the pan. Mix until you created a thick sauce that sticks to the pasta. It is that simple. Add some extra cheese if you prefer. The vigorous mixing creates an emulsified sauce. It is mostly technique, but practice makes perfect. Hence, eat more pasta. Some would say it is simple logic. But life is too short not to enjoy simple food.


    Do not eat too much in one sitting. Palate fatigue is a real thing. Add some hard cheese shavings at the end for a contrast in texture. If you did everything right, the right amount of sauce will stick to the pasta. Enjoy life’s simple gifts. Do not overthink making simple pasta dishes. It is not easy to work with minimal ingredients, but the rewards will far outweigh complex dishes in my opinion.

    Tags :

    food foodies basil herbs garden philosophy

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