View Full Version : Pesto in a blender = impossible?

06-18-2002, 12:13 PM
I tried to make pesto last week using my blender (don't have a food processor or mortar and pestle) and it was awful - it would just fling everything to the sides without chopping anything (even when I poured the liquids in while it was running). I scraped it down about 50 times, I tried adding more liquids, nothing worked. The blender was running so long it started to smoke! (yes, its old - but works great for everything else so a new one is not in the cards.) Eventually it did get kind of chopped (but I was picking out whole leaves and a whole garlic clove!) and it tastes OK but its not the usual pesto paste-like texture.

Do I need to make a huge quantity - would that help? Or is it just impossible to make pesto in a blender?

06-18-2002, 12:17 PM

I had to reply, because the same thing happened to me. I was making the cilantro pesto from the June issue. My blender is EXTREMELY old. It's a hand-me-down from an aunt when I first moved out. Anyway, I did a lot of scraping. I just pulsed it a lot, which helped, and I finally had a pesto-resembling dish.

But, since that incident, I've put a blender on my wants list. :)

06-18-2002, 01:10 PM
I used to think that a blender and a food processor were interchangeable, until I made pesto in my Cuisinart FP. Man! What a difference! It was restaurant quality pesto, using the same recipe I've always used. I, too, had always had the problem of the basil not getting pureeed enough in the blender. I'll never use my blender for pesto again.

Of course, if you're not in the market for a food processor, I guess you could try chopping everything really fine before adding it to the blender, especially the garlic. No one wants to get that rogue chunk of raw garlic in their pasta!

I don't think that making a huge quanity would help; I tried that once, and everything near the blades got super-blended, but everything above the blade stayed whole. Blenders are really better for liquids, I think.

Have you looked into those mini-prep food processors? They're small, but they're supposed to chop anything. I think Cuisinart makes one.

06-18-2002, 02:15 PM
I've only used a blender for pesto and have always had success--and I make it a lot, it's one of my favorite meals of all time! ;)

I have to admit I have a particular order in which I make it. I leave it running and toss in the garlic cloves, stop. Leave it on and drop in the leaves so they chop. Then add the olive oil, cheese and nuts if I'm in the mood, and then it's done.

My machine isn't very new, but I've have never had any problems. Does it work for other things? Can the blades become dull?

06-18-2002, 08:12 PM
Marcella Hazan's cookbook has a recipe for Blender Pesto (although you can also make it in a food processor which is what I do), so it should be able to be done successfully. I know I posted the recipe (although I don't think I called it Blender Pesto) on a thread about basil, but if you can't find it and you don't have access to the cookbook and you want it, let me know and I'll post it. But Chris415's order of ingredients will work fine, I'm sure!

06-19-2002, 06:41 AM
I had the same problem happen to me!! Brand spanking new blender- I tried making the cilantro pesto from May and I kept having to stop the blender and scrape the sides-well i got so frustrated, I kept the blender running and I stupidly (I am cringing as i'm writing this) stuck a butter knife in there the scrape the sides- well you guessed it, I accidentally got too close to the blade and hit it- as a result I damaged the blade. so picture me explaining this to DH:
"I stuck a knife in the blener...."
"You did what??????"
"Well, you see, i thought i would just be careful...."
"YOu did what??????"
"You see, the pesto was stuck to the sides...."
"You did WHAT????"
You get the picture,
Anyway happy ending- Dad knows of a small appliance replacement parts store and got me a new blade. I didnt tell him how it happened- but he figured it out- DH showed him the damaged blade and dad goes, hmm, looks like something metal hit it....
Moral of the story- no knives in the blender; and oh yes, no pesto in the blender either- use the FP!

06-19-2002, 06:46 AM
Originally posted by beckms
Have you looked into those mini-prep food processors? They're small, but they're supposed to chop anything. I think Cuisinart makes one.

I have the Cuisinart mini prep and use it for precisely this kind of thing. I really don't know that I need an "adult" FP because I sort of enjoy chopping, slicing, etc. The mini prep is about $40 and if you watch department store sales, you can maybe find them in the $30-$40 range.

06-19-2002, 07:44 AM
I make pesto all the time in my mini-prep. I highly recommend getting one if you can find one on sale. It really works great and lasts quite a while too. (I've had mine at least 4 years.) Also, when I have a recipe that calls for several cloves of minced garlic, I throw them in there and it's completely minced in about 10 seconds. It's much easier to wash the mini prep than to mince by hand, and it wastes less garlic than my terrible dollar-store garlic press!

06-19-2002, 05:23 PM
Here's another plug for the mini-prep food processor. Works great for pesto, hummus, etc. and is the perfect size if you cook for a small number of people.

06-19-2002, 05:28 PM
Thanks everyone - guess I'll just have to go without homemade pesto for now (I should have specified that getting a food processor, even a mini one, or a new blender is NOT an option unfortunately) - but I think I'll live.


Wendy w
06-19-2002, 05:29 PM
I too have tried making pesto in a blender with disastrous results. My circa 1980 food processor recently died. Thanks for the tip, I have 2 minichoppers:o - one Cuisinart and the other Black & Decker. Will have to try pesto and hummus in them until I get a new large one. I'm thinking about that fp/blender combo that Kim Wormann mentioned a few days ago.