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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.

Love Massimo. He's the most enthusiastic guy and you can tell that he's bursting with energy and passion. Can't wait to put some of these ideas and techniques to use. Thank you!

Reinforced the pt of buying local fresh products. Trusting/ develop your pallet.

Absolutely amazing talent!!!! Can't wait to try the recipes from the workbook. My boyfriend is Sicilian, I want to surprise him with this amazing food.

Beautiful Italian dishes that I can adapt to my family


Tanis A.

Loved it! Great tip about adding the herb stems to the pasta water and love the idea of subbing bread crumbs for pine nuts.

A fellow student

he is so annoying and i can't believe he's having another person do the cooking... recipe might be great but i cant watch this clown.


while I prefer my pesto pasta warm it is quite difficult to keep that beautiful bright green color once you subject it to heat, I do use ice water while making all my pestos, but once you add it to hot pasta it will begin to go darker quickly.

Deborah C.

I love this chef!!! I am going to make the pesto tonight - all the herbs are in my garden. Thank you Chef!


Loved this and looks amazing, but one little tiny thing... at the beginning the mention of traditional Pesto's ingredients is not correct. Traditional pesto alla Genovese doesn't have garlic and does have pine nuts... almeno a Genova lo fanno cosi'. :-) Love the experimentation though.

Joshua J.

The family loved it! We added the pesto to some Gnocchi and it was superb.


My kids and I made this tonight. We had to trouble shoot together and they were concerned because it was so green, but when we sat down to eat, they (and I) took seconds. It was awesome building their confidence in cooking at such a young age.


We made the pesto last night, it was delicious and we had fun making it. We were supposed to be in Italy right now but due to the lockdown we are freezing in May in Ontario, Canada. Thank you for allowing us to bring a little bit of sunny Italy into our home.


I was super inspired by this lesson and immediately bought the ingredients to make the pesto variation at home - and it did not taste good at all... there is not that much to do 'wrong' here so I am a bit discouraged

Karen W.

I absolutely loved this lesson! I am of Italian heritage and can't wait to make this pesto.