The History of Pesto Sauce

Pesto Sauce

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, and from the time the Italians invented pesto it has always been prepared with crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and including Fiore Sardo, a cheese made from sheep’s milk.

It is possible the mineral-rich seaside soil and temperate climate of Liguria is why pesto sauce has  become a beloved sauce in northeren Italy, as they have the perfect conditions for growing basil.

The Meaning of Pesto

Different Materials to make Mortars and Pestles

Click To Enlarge For Better Viewing

The Italian word for pesto: pestare, means to pound, or to crush. Pesto was originally prepared with a marble mortar and wooden pestle.

The ingredients were pounded or crushed with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar.

The book “Pesto Genovese: an Ageless Benchmark of Great Italian Cuisine,” writes that the ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, prepared by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together.

Because the term pesto is a generic word for anything that is made by pounding or crushing, that leaves the original pesto sauce recipe open to flexible and differing ways to prepare the sauce.

Flexible Ways to Prepare Pesto Sauce

In accent Provence, France the pesto was prepared without using pine nuts, as no pine trees grow there to provide the nuts. Sometimes almonds are used instead of pine nuts, and mint leaves are mixed in with the basil leaves. Some have even used spinach or cilantro in place of basil.

grated Asiago cheese

Grated Asiago Cheese

The interchangeable use of the nuts and greens just depends on your taste. In our kitchen at Splendid Recipes and More, we have used pecans in place of pine nuts, and almost always use Asiago cheese in place of the traditional Parmesan cheese.

Here’s the recipe for the traditional pesto sauce, though as we said, at Splendid Recipes and More, we use Asiago cheese. Here is what you will need.

Pesto Sauce - over head shot2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, no stems

¼ cup pine nuts

2 large garlic cloves

½ cup grated Romano/Parmesan or Asiago cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a food processor, except oil, and pulse. Start to add oil slowly, pulsing until ingredients form a smooth paste.

Note: If you do not use right away, or there are left overs, store in a jar with a layer of olive oil on top to prevent discoloration, and top jar with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator. Will store for 3 to 5 days.

Pesto is no doubt one of the worlds most loved sauces, next to the mayonnaise and the Mexican traditional salsa.

What Others Are Reading:

Red Pear and French Bean Salad

Red Pear and French Bean Salad - plated

Red pears have a high concentration of phytonutrient anthocyanin, which has anti-aging properties. This nutrient also promotes heart health and protects against cancer. Read pears are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin-C, potassium (not as nutrient dense as a banana), and copper.

Red PearsWe know that vitamin-C is needed for tissue growth, promoting healthy collagen, but we don’t hear enough of what copper is good for.

Copper is not just for hot water pipping in our homes, copper the kind that our bodies can assimilate, is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, and collagen as well.

While basil, found in the dressing of our featured recipe, is also great for skin and hair, fighting against some cancers, it also has that its antioxidants and volatile oils are a great assistance to the immune system.

The leaves of the basil, and oil alike, have antibacterial properties. Applied topically to wounds, basil leaves may eliminate bacterial infections, while enjoying basil in food, it can help combat viral infections, including colds, flu, and herpes.

Talking about basil, here is the recipe that will dress the salad, and it includes basil.

Basil Chickpea Miso Vinaigrette

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons chickpea miso, room tempurature

1 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons lemon zest

juice of half a lemon

Basil ChickPea Miso Vinaigrette

Tear basil leaves without steams, and loosely fill one cup. Place oil, vinegar, miso, basil, garlic and lemon zest (we forgot the lemon zest, my bad) in a small jar. Screw lid on tightly and shack well until smooth, making sure miso is dissolved and mixed in well. Set aside.

Here is what you will need for the Red Pear and French Bean Salad.

2 lbs. French green beans, ends trimmed

4 small, ripe but firm red pears, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise ( seed, but do not peel)

1 cup chopped pecans

Wash beans and trim the ends. Cut beans in half. You can blanch the beans or use them raw. Blanch for about 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside.

Preparing Red Pear and French Bean Salad

Prepare the pears while the beans are blanching. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a large bowl. Cut pears using a apple slicer, and slice each wedge one time more. Place all pear slices into bowl with lemon juice, and mix to coat pears with juice. Coating them with lemon juice will prevent the pear flesh from oxidizing or turning brown.

Next, place the pecans and basil vinaigrette into a large mixing bowl. Place pears and beans into bowl and toss to mix well, making sure produce is coated well with vinaigrette.

Red Pear and French Bean Salad - in a serving bowlAfter tossing to coat salad, turn into a large serving bowl.

Red Pear and French Bean Salad - platedPlate and serve.

 

What Others are Writing About Across the Web: