Delicious pesto begins with fresh-picked basil leaves.
The first time I tasted pesto was on a warm summer night while dining al fresco at a restaurant in Fiesole, Italy. I inquired about the trenette al pesto on the menu and one of my companions insisted that I try it. My plate of pasta arrived with a bright-green aromatic herb sauce that tasted rich, savory, sweet, and pungent all at the same time. I couldn't figure out what the main ingredient of the sauce was, so, with some amusement, my Italian friends explained to me that basil was the key ingredient in this sauce called pesto. That dish changed my life.
Before I left Italy, my friends taught me how to make my own pesto, and the next year I started growing basil in my garden so I could have fresh basil available to make this dish whenever I wanted it.