Pesto is a type of sauce made out of garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. It came from the Genoese word “pestâ” which means to pound or crush and that is the way this recipe is prepared, by a marble mortar and wooden pestle. It is also where the English pestle word came from.
This sauce originated from the ancient Romans it was originally called moretum (the mortar word might have originated from it) it consists of cheese, garlic and herbs. Basil was introduced afterwards in the North African regions but became popular in India. The Ligurians around Genoa then took the dish and adapted it by using the same ingredients with the inclusion of pine nuts and olive oil.
Since pesto is a generic term for pounding there are different versions of this traditional dish and here are some:
- Pesto alla Genovese – This is the most popular one, the one everybody knows. It is consists of Parmigiano Reggiano, basil, salt, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and pine nuts.
- Pistou – Made out of only 3 ingredients which are olive oil, basil, and garlic. Cheese can be sometimes added.
- Pesto alla Siciliana – also called the red pesto, it is made out of Parmigiano Reggiano, tomato, basil, salt, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and almonds.
- Pesto alla Calabrese – this is the spicy pesto and it consists of grilled capsicums, black pepper, olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano
A very versatile sauce which you can use with pasta, baked potatoes, bread or even as a dip. How about you do you know any other use of pesto?
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
5 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
- Place basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and gently pulse.
- Slowly add olive oil while food processor is on.
- Add cheese and pulse again until completely blended.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.