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.

Bottura is the best! Quanta passione in questo uomo! Non sono ancora stato a Osteria Francescana ma senza dubbio e uno dei miei sogni, vederlo cucinare con Taka e stato un piacere gigantesco! PS. cane favoloso

Massimo is an amazing chef! Wish this class was longer with more recipes.

What a passionate approach with eagerness to share!

Love Massimo's positive energy and passion!


A fellow student

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.


I really like his approach. He respects the traditional methods while using his own creativity to suit his "palate." Very inspirational. Thank you so much!

Shane P.

Chef Bottura is all about a philosophical approach to Italian dishes, and I am sure to other cuisines as well. I appreciate his approach of the classics and modifying them to flow with our times. What's the point in perfecting and peddling classical dishes, while inhibiting ones creativity. While the classics are important to know and master, you ask yourself, but what am I doing here, what's new?. However, understanding the classics allows you to manipulate the dish hence modifying it. I appreciate this man and his work. Good class.

Ryan D.

I'm loving every thing this man is presenting into my reality, and what I've to say about THIS is that he is absolutely right about the bread crumbs. While making pasta with eggs this morning, I'd noticed I had some cream in the fridge to use up, so I created a fast sauce (with just some sauteed garlic cloves, bit of melted fresh mozz, and some basil plus a roasted garlic spice from penzey's) to simply use up the cream. Upon deciding to add bread crumbs, due to recalling his mention and usage, I was shocked I hadn't either thought of, or learned of such earlier. While you can assume it would add a subtle flavour (somewhat in the realm of "nutty flavour" our palettes are familiar with) the consistency addition it provides is quite unlike anything else. While I enjoy adding sunflower kernels to scrambled eggs, therefore enjoying the balance of textures, I had not thought a much milder [non-crunch] addition would do so much. I'm going to be adding breadcrumbs to thicker liquid things here and there, for the sake of exploration and experimentation.

Peter V.

what a great recipe and what a passionate chef! Looking forward to create barbecue recipes from this!

Irma D.

This cannot be better than original pesto, because breadcrumbs can never impart more flavour than pine or any other nut. Moreover, it is much less nutritious, and applying it to a pasta dish just increases the starch content. While I appreciate Mr. Bottura's philosophy, and his skillful use of herbs, I would not replace nuts with bread.

Milko G.

Gosh, this guy is my hero. This is how I feel cooking- playing music, it’s about feeling of harmony and improvisation...

Burlacu O.

This was my pasta following your recipe. I improvised a little using a mix of some aged local cheese and parmigiana. The pasta it tastes amazing, not bitter, not oily, just perfectly creamy. Great recipe, will do it again for sure :)