Secret Recipe: Pearce Family Pesto

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Five days before the 2010 Olympic snowboard trials, 23-year-old Kevin Pearce cracked his head on a halfpipe and sunk into a coma. He woke up six days later with memory loss, occasional seizures, and a newfound love for his mother's basil pesto. “It's really weird how hitting your head really hard can do something like this to you — I never would have thought it,” Pearce says. “I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with.”

Pearce puts pesto on everything, but he says it's especially tasty on sandwiches and ravioli. “Yesterday I went to the store — on joke — just for pesto,” he says. Usually, though, Pearce makes the pesto himself. His mom taught him the recipe while he was recuperating from his accident at his family's home in Hartland, Vermont. Pearce now lives in Carlsbad, California. “Now that I'm out here on my own, it's awesome to know how to make it,” he says. “We have the best recipe ever.”

And, here it is:

-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Parmesana-Reggiano)
-2 cups loosely packed fresh basil (basil needs to be dry and clean and picked off stem just before use)
-1/4 cup rounded pine nuts
-1/2 tsp. salt (preferably kosher)
-1 clove garlic (through garlic press)
-1/2 cup olive oil

-Place cheese in food processor and process until finely shredded. Set aside in a bowl.
-Combine basil, pressed garlic, cheese, pine nuts, and salt in food processor. Process until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
-Add olive oil slowly while continuing to process.
-Turn processor off and scrape the sides of the processor with a spatula. If you'd like thinner pesto, add more olive oil and process again.
-Pulse to bring salt up from the bottom, being careful not to over-process.
-Place pesto in small jar and add a very thin layer of olive oil on the top.
-Cover with lid and store in refrigerator or freeze immediately for later use.

For more on Kevin Pearce, read Jonah Lehrer's “Some Assembly Required.”

–Whitney Dreier

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