At last, after so many years in the kitchen, I found a proper mortar and pestle and instantly became a mortar-and-pestle evangelist. I’ve also become someone who uses her food processor a lot less.
See the mint leaves in the mortar? Three minutes after I took the picture, they were pesto! There’s a reason the tool has been around for centuries: it works — quickly. And it’s fun to use. And it’s easy to clean. And it’s beautiful. In the few days I’ve had it, I’ve made guacamole, an herb paste for a roasted chicken, a garlic vinaigrette and a red pepper dip. And, I bought another one for Connecticut. Can you tell I’m hooked?
This particular mortar and pestle comes from Thailand and is made from one piece of rough (the better to grind) granite. It comes in three sizes: 1 1/2 cups, 2 cups and 3+ cups. I bought the 3+ and I think, if you get a mortar and pestle, you should go jumbo, too. You can use it to pound and grind teensy quantities, but when you’ve got a bunch of basil, a fistful of nuts, or a few heads of garlic, you’ll be happy to have the room to move around.
In true motherly fashion, I think that the first time you pound your way to pesto, you’ll thank me.