Originating from Genoa, in northern Italy, Pesto has become a famous pasta sauce, but in Italy it is also well known as a condiment for ‘Minestrone alla Genovese’ : vegetable soup the way the Genoese make it.
Traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, the blend of olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, salt, and Parmesan cheese, was spooned into the soup just before serving adding an amazing fragrance.
There’s nothing like making your own
fresh pesto and doing it the way you like as to the proportion of the ingredients. The most flavour and fragrance coming from the basil leaves, and the Parmesan.
Looking forward to the Choice review of ready made Pesto.
Edit: My apologies, I forgot to include the classic ingredient of Pine nuts.
Us it two ways, either as a base for a pasta sauce or use it as a spread on fresh bread.
Have you heard about any unusual uses for pesto?
Friends use it as a pizza sauce (instead of say tomato paste) and also use it to make savoury pinwheels.
If you make your own pesto, what are your tips?
We have it when we had excess herbs in the garden. Very easy to make with a few ingredients. Herbs (inc. basil), oil and garlic (don’t follow a recipe and just add enough oil to allow it to mix. Parmesan can also be added as well as any tree or peanuts. Just blend it until it is all incorporated and eat when fresh as the flavours tend to diminish over time.
What different types of pesto do you prefer?
We prefer the herb ones only. There are olive pestos…but we don’t call these pestos but tapenade.
Do you have a favourite brand of pesto?
No, if we buy we usually try and buy local Australian made ones (like at a deli or local markets). We prefer to make our own unless we are travelling when making it can be difficult.
Pesto, great for a base on pizza to make that tomato zing, or go less traditional and step away from the tomato base all together. Any heavily herbed pesto can be matched to a variety of cheeses and meats, or vegetables. Thinly sliced and heavily caramelised pumpkin or sweet potato with a traditional basil and pine nut pesto. Add other flavours carefully. Pepper rather than chilli unless the expert is at the bench. Some say you can never have too much garlic or chilli.
Sorry, too much garlic is the reason I don’t enjoy pesto sauce at restaurants. Basil is very easily overpowered by any strong ingredient, but too much garlic just destroys it. And Chilli takes over every thing else that’s not as strong, although it matches well with bitter cacao.
How do you use pesto in your cooking? - just the standard way with pasta, sometimes with added sour cream, or on pizza.
If you make your own pesto, what are your tips? - Occasional make with my Thermomix - super easy.
Do you have a favourite brand of pesto? - Of the standard jars in the pasta area of the supermarket, I prefer Jaimie Oliver brand as it has less salt.
How do we use pesto? Apart from the classic, on pasta, we make individual foil pockets and put a salmon fillet/cutlet in, with a dob of pesto on top and bake at 180C for 20 mins.
We usually make our own in the food processor and add a good squeeze or squirt of lemon. We’ve also frozen it, although this is discouraged by most websites. We defrost it in the microwave.
An option to reduce strong garlic taste is to use roasted garlic… bake a whole garlic in the oven. The taste of the garlic changes to something which is sweeter and milder. The pesto is possibly more ‘gourmet’.
The best pesto I have ever eaten had raw (not roasted or salted) macadamia nuts added to the ‘usual’ recipe of olive oil, garlic, basil and parmesan. Another great variation still had the macadamia nuts, but instead of basil, coriander was used. I highly recommend people try it.