What is pesto?
‘The most beloved sauce in the World!’ Who said that? I did, you may quote me.
The pesto that most people know is Pesto alla Genovese or Battuto Genovese, or if you are a local, Genoese Pesto. It’s characteristic ingredients include garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil, pecorino, parmesan and olive oil. This list is actually the order in which you would add them to a mortar so they can be crushed by a pestle. The salt is both for flavor and also helps to crush the delicate basil leaves.
Pesto and pestle both come from the Latin and Italian root word pestare, which means to crush, hence the origination of the name of this amazing sauce.
The History of Pesto
The precursors to Pesto alla Genovese are Moretum and Agliata.
Moretum was from the ancient Roman empire and consisted of cheese, garlic and herbs.
Agliata was probably first introduced during the Middle Ages and was made of crushed walnuts and garlic.
We first see modern pesto documented in 1863 by Giovanni Battista Ratto in his publication, La Cuciniera Genovese, where he describes in detail how to make the pesto we know today in a mortar and pestle.
10 Ways To Use Pesto
- Toss with pasta, especially any pasta with texture, this will help the pasta grab the slippery sauce.
- Add to fresh veggies.
- Add to eggs before scrambling them.
- Use as a condiment on sandwiches and wraps, stir some into mayo or by itself.
- Dip crusty baguette pieces into pesto, my favorite way to enjoy this sauce.
- Make a dip by stirring into sour cream, yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Use it as a sauce for your handmade pizza.
- Add to buttermilk to make a salad dressing.
- Smear on bruschetta.
- Garnish soup.
There are many pesto-like sauces from around the World. Some were invented by Italians and Spaniards that were transplanted to other regions and developed pesto like sauces utilizing ingredients they could find locally like Pebre sauce or Romesco or Pistou.
There is also Caruso Sauce which has some Italian influence as the un-official dish of Uruguay.
Creative Pesto Ingredients With The Basic Pesto Recipe
The basic pesto recipe I use is a ratio of [1:8:2:2] with [nuts – greens – cheese – oil] + garlic & salt.
Be your own culinary artist by using this basic pesto recipe with your own mix of ingredients. Go wild!
- pine nuts
- carrot tops
- beet greens
- celery leaves
- pea shoots
- lemon zest, not technically a ‘green’, but I DID say go WILD!
- grana padano
- extra virgin olive oil
- grapeseed oil
- avocado oil
- walnut oil
All about pesto. Make your own pesto creation using a simple ratio and select your ingredients.
- 1 part nuts
- 8 parts herbs and greens
- 2 parts cheese
- 2 parts oil
- 1-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- salt to taste, I start out with 1/2 tsp salt and add more if needed
Choose your ingredients and place in a food processor. Pulse until a thick paste forms, add more oil if necessary to get the consistency you prefer.
You may use a blender instead of a food processor, scrape down the sides as needed.
You may also use a mortar and pestle. If so, start with the garlic and nuts and crush until a paste forms. Then add salt and basil, crushing until a paste forms again. Add the remaining ingredients.
Another pesto recipe you may like