a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto alla
genovese). The name is the past participle of pestâ ("to pound, to
crush"), in reference to
the sauce's crushed herbs and garlic.
Left: Basil pesto in
Pesto is a generic term for anything which is made by
pounding and there are various Pestos, some traditional, some modern.
Historically, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a
wooden pestle. The leaves are washed, dried, placed in the mortar with garlic
and coarse salt, and crushed to a creamy consistency. The pine nuts are added
and crushed together with the other ingredients. When the nuts are
well-incorporated into the "cream", grated cheese or olive oil can be added and
mixed with a wooden spoon. In a tight jar (or simply in an air-tight plastic
container), pesto can last in the refrigerator up to a week, and can also be
frozen for later use.
Commercial pesto is commonly available in supermarkets in either green
(original) or red (with sun-dried tomatoes or red bell peppers) varieties.
Cashew nuts or walnuts are often used instead of pine nuts, because they are
less expensive and have a similar texture.
Pesto is commonly used on
pasta. It is sometimes used in
minestrone. Pesto is sometimes served on
sliced beef, tomatoes and sliced boiled potatoes.
di Pesto alla genovese.
alla genovese is made with Genovese basil, salt, garlic, Ligurian extra virgin
olive oil (Taggiasco), European pine nuts (often toasted) and a grated hard
cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. Pesto alla siciliana, sometimes called simply
(red pesto) is a sauce from Sicily similar to Genovese pesto but with the
addition of tomato, almonds instead of pine nuts and much less basil. Pesto alla
calabrese is a sauce from Calabria consisting of (grilled) bell peppers, black
pepper and more; these ingredients give it a distinctively spicy taste.
Other modern Pestos, some of international and not Italian
origin, with ingredient variations may include: arugula
(instead of or in addition
to basil), mint, black olives, lemon peel, coriander or mushrooms.
Take basil leaves...
and pine nuts...
and grind them up with the other ingredients.