Pesto – the traditional Italian sauce

Posted on 2 min read

In summer, herbs like basil are available in abundance. And nothing can beat a homemade pesto. Certainly, this traditional Italian condiment can be found in most grocery stores all year round, thanks to its popularity.

However, if you make pesto from scratch using fresh ingredients, it might pleasantly surprise you.

Homemade pesto for the ultimate experience

Homemade pesto tastes very different from the store-bought versions. It will take just a few minutes of your time. And once the ingredients are assembled, this pesto will instantly brighten up any old pasta.

Add a dollop or two of it to grilled vegetables or fresh tomatoes. Enjoy the “taste” of Genoa, the birthplace of pesto.

The traditional way of making Genoa pesto

Traditionally, pesto from Genoa is made with basil leaves, European pine nuts, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and extra virgin olive oil. All the ingredients are manually crushed in a mortar with a pestle.

The result is a homogeneous bright green paste. Certainly, blenders will save you time and effort in preparing pesto.

Let’s prepare a delicious home-made pesto

Ingredients:

  • 60 g / ½ cup of pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 pinch of coarse sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 40 g / 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 g / ¼ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation:

  1. Toast the pine nuts on a hot skillet and place them in a food processor. Add the lemon juice and garlic to the nuts. Then season with salt and pepper.
  2. Blend the ingredients and then add thebasil leaves. The younger and smaller the leaves, the better.
  3. Pulse the blender again and add theolive oil.
  4. Finally, add the cheese. Blend the mix a bit more until the paste is homogeneous.

Pesto can be frozen in ice-cube trays if you want to preserve it for later use. However, you might want to avoid adding cheese, as it doesn’t freeze well. Completely defrost the basil cubes and add cheese then.

While pesto is traditionally made with basil and cedar seeds, you don’t need to stop there. Replace pine nuts with walnuts or cashew. Mix rucola with beetroot greens, and add dried tomatoes. Or roast papers to create a unique blend. There is so much room to experiment.

Use your own pesto for this easy vegan recipe

  1. Preheat an oven to 180 °C / 350 °F.
  2. Cut 1 aubergine lengthwise and score a criss-cross pattern in the flesh side with a knife.
  3. Place the aubergine halves on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil.
  4. Bake them for 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft and the sides are charred.
  5. Remove from the oven and spread a thick layer of pesto over the aubergine halves.
  6. Grill them for 5-7 minutes to make pesto bubble and crisp.

Serve alone or as a side to meat or poultry dishes.

Another great way of enjoying pesto is to spread it over boiled corn on a cob. Give it a go, and you might prefer it to the usual butter with salt flakes.

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