Make Ahead

Danny Bowien's World Championship Pesto

September  7, 2016
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

Future Mission Chinese Chef Danny Bowien won the title of 2008 World Pesto Champion, which has since become the subject of internet legend. But none of the versions published under Danny Bowien's name look quite like the smooth, creamy, bright green substance that won him the gold.
Here we've attempted to recreate it, adapted from ACHICA Living and Lucky Peach's 101 Easy Asian Recipes. —Genius Recipes

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Makes almost 2 cups of pesto, enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta with some left over for other meals
Ingredients
  • 3 cups packed basil leaves (100 grams, from 2 large bunches)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (untoasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino Romano (using a Microplane grater, 12 grams)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (using a Microplane grater, 12 grams)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Wash the basil leaves in a big bowl of cold water, changing out the water as needed if the leaves are sandy.
  2. Add the pine nuts and salt to a blender, along with 1/2 cup of the olive oil, or enough to cover the blades. Blend briefly, then add the basil to the blender, shaking lightly but leaving a bit of the cold water clinging to the leaves. Add a small clove of garlic—Bowien says good pesto doesn’t need too much garlic—and the remaining olive oil. Gently pulse this all together in the blender, letting the ingredients mix with each other organically. The mixture should be smooth and bright green.
  3. Add the cheeses and blend the mixture one final time, just until the cheese is evenly dispersed. The result should be a fresh, light pesto in a vibrant shade of green. Taste and adjust the salt, cheese, and consistency to your liking.
  4. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for no more than four days or freeze (in ice cube trays or flat in freezer bags).

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • The Maine Feed
    The Maine Feed
  • Duane Smelser
    Duane Smelser
  • les corry
    les corry
  • Mary Kate Ryan
    Mary Kate Ryan
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum
    Rose Levy Beranbaum
Review
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.