Culinary Arts

An Evolution of Pesto

Massimo Bottura

Lesson time 13:31 min

Start learning how to experiment with traditional recipes as Massimo shares his unique take on pesto, using bread crumbs in place of pine nuts. Joining Massimo is Taka Kondo, his sous-chef.

Massimo Bottura
Teaches Modern Italian Cooking
Massimo Bottura teaches you his take on traditional Italian cooking—from risotto to tortellini—and shares techniques for reimagining your own recipes.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - We are going to start cooking. My sous chef Taka is going to help me in the kitchen so I can focus on talking to you. We're going to make an amazing evolution of a pesto sauce using all kinds of fresh herbs. Taka, my brother-- little brother-- from Japan. So let's cook some pasta. Let's start with fusilli because I love fusilli. Fusilli because they have a very, very cool shape in which, you know, a velvety sauce as we are going to create goes inside the shape. And when you eat it one by one and enjoy one by one, you have pasta and sauce at the same time. Taka is putting salt into the water because you know that we need a touch of salt. We're going to put the pasta in those 10 minutes. In 10 minutes, we're going to create an amazing fresh pesto sauce. Actually, an evolution of a pesto sauce because we have always to be critic and not nostalgic. So here, you have garlic. Garlic is very aggressive in taste. So what we do-- and we do the same thing for when we make guacamole-- we cut the garlic in the middle and we are like we pressing on the side of the container that we are going to use to make pesto. We're going to leave a little trace of garlic in what we prepare. Then Taka is adding some extra virgin olive oil. That is very, very important. And remember, obsession about quality of the ingredients. I want to tell you a story. I was thinking about create pesto. And pesto is just basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano, a pinch of salt, but I didn't have enough basil. And here, we go. The door opened for the unexpected. So we add rosemary. Here. We cannot add rosemary to basil because it's too aggressive. So no rosemary. We add sage, the same thing. But thyme, it's fine. Mint is amazing. We mix mint with basil and a little bit of thyme. So Taka is putting the basil. And he's adding some of the fresh herbs, like this amazing-- smell how fresh everything is. Oh, my god. So good. Smells so good. And make sure you don't put everything in there. This, you can use it to flavor the water, like this. Just make sure you have just the leaves, not to get a bitterness in the back. And this, you're going to put in there. So the pasta is already getting the flavor. A little bit more extra virgin olive oil. We're going to put some Parmigiano in there because I really like Parmigiano in there. And then pine nuts. Pine nuts, pine nuts, pine nuts-- where are pine nuts? Where are pine nuts? We are out of pine nuts. We were out of pine nuts. What are we going to do? Mental palate-- that all the range of flavor, the range of experience, tradition, mixing things. Bread crumbs, bread crumbs-- we use bread crumbs. We put bread crumbs instead of pine nuts. This was an amazing idea. This is like exactly out with old tradition. Tradition in evolution can be any kind of dry bread. You can put in a blender and make it very fine. What do we have here? We have very cold water. And what is water? Water is tr...

Reimagine your cooking

Massimo Bottura, chef of the three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana, treats his world-renowned restaurant as a laboratory of ideas. In his MasterClass, he shares how he transforms classic, regional Italian recipes into exciting modern dishes. You’ll learn how to make rich, flavorful tagliatelle al ragù, pumpkin risotto, and a MasterClass-exclusive Emilia Burger recipe. Develop your palate and embark on a culinary adventure.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I really liked it because it makes you think different in regards of how to cook. Thank you!

Massimo is amazing, incredible to see how he is always reimagining tradition. Bellisimo.

Massimo's joy for cooking- for sharing memories and emotion with others by using the finest ingredients and cooking as an act of love- is truly inspiring. This is such a beautiful way to live that extends far beyond the kitchen.

I just have recreated the Better than panettone recipe with left over croissants :) so i have created the Better than croissant recipe. Thank you Bottura Regards


William A.

I simply love your approach. "You don't need the recipe". I much prefer to cook organically, from what I have, what I can get, rather than struggling to figure out how to make a specific recipe work. Much better me thinks to know how to cook, how to taste. Great approach, to cooking and to instructing.

A fellow student

This guy is so much more enjoyable to watch than Gordon Ramsay. The way he's deeply passionate about the higher meaning of food reminds me of Steve Jobs. He's like the Italian Steve Jobs.


This makes me SO happy -- my children have been diagnosed with a tree-nut allergy, so our beloved pesto has been a no-go ever since. Bread crumbs!? Massimo, you have saved us!

A fellow student

The Pesto evolution was a great success, my family loved the delicate intricacy of the flavors. The breadcrumbs topping was a great idea. Really Fun!!!

DeWayne E.

I did not like this lesson at all! The end where he says you can buy the Master Class cookbook left me very upset as I just paid 240.00 and was hoping to get measurements and the exact recipe not having to spend more money to get this!! Very disappointing.

Gabriela L.

Super great lesson. Massimo's principles are so inspiring. It's like a "cooking-Dasein" philosophy.


This is a brilliant lesson. I am so grateful to Chef Bottura for encouraging each of us to liberate our cooking from the ball and chain of slavishly following recipes. Bravo! An homage to creativity in the kitchen.

David G.

So i just made this and the color and presentation looks great. BUT i dont think i got the right flavor :/ also the sauce broke and the oil got bright green and bitter after the 3rd bite. I think i put the pasta back in the pot with too much heat but im not sure. I also had to use fresh cheese not grated. Wondering if that all made a difference and why the sauce broke. Will try it again though. Any suggestions

Michael B.

I liked this lesson very much. I have made pesto numerous times and the pine nuts didn't work for my family. I used other nuts but using bread crumbs should work.

A fellow student

I like the idea of finishing the dish with toasted breadcrumbs. I do wonder if toasting the breadcrumbs that go in the pesto would not add a bit of depth of flavour. Also I wonder if starting the herbs in a mortar and pestle might not bring more of the aromatics to the forefront.