Pesto - an Italian paste that could not be more delicious!
The most common pesto comes from the Italian region of Liguria and is called Pesto alla Genovese. This is a traditional recipe of basil leaves, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and salt. Everything is put in a mortar and crushed. This creates a fine, very spicy paste. Incidentally, the name of the pesto also comes from the crushing of the ingredients. In Italian, "crushing" means "pestare", so the word pesto is pretty close, right?
Incidentally, one still argues about the origin of the delicious sauce even today. One suggestion about the origin of pesto is that it is a variation of a sauce that was already eaten by the Romans: the Moretum. This sauce consisted of cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt, coriander, rue and celery green. Pesto's oldest recipe dates back to 1863, so pesto has a very long tradition in Italy, and at least that's what spirits are all about.
Meanwhile, pesto is available all over the world and is very popular. The green sauce gained fame when it was mentioned in an article in the New York Times in 1944 and appeared two years later in a recipe by an Italian cook in Sunset magazine. The pesto became really famous later, when Frank Sinatra became the face of a pesto advertising campaign.
The delicious pesto can be bought in endless variations. In addition to the popular Pesto alla Genovese, there are many more recipes. For example, pesto with dried tomatoes, with ricotta or with paprika. In addition, there is also pungent varieties, such as Gitte's Rumpelstiltskin almond chilli pesto. Delicious, crunchy almonds combined with the good old Pep of Habanero chilli. Fairytale delicious! If you prefer to stay with the green pesto, there are also many variants: wild garlic pesto, rocket pesto, pesto with parsley and and and ...
By the way, pesto is not only a hit on pasta, but also as a dip, on bread, on Pizza, in dressing and on grilled poultry or fish very good to enjoy!
A tip: Pay attention when buying Pesto, to what the list of ingredients contains! Because it is often cheated with the ingredients. In cheap pesto varieties, inferior ingredients are often used, which then cannot taste as good as a pesto, which consists only of natural ingredients.
Making and Enjoying Pesto
There are all sorts of dishes cooked with pesto and it is becoming ever more popular. That is reason enough to find out how you can make pesto yourself and what different variants are out there. For this purpose, not only different recipes should be presented. At the same time, it also explains which dishes the pesto best suits.
What is pesto actually?
Pesto is a paste that is uncooked, especially in Italian cuisine. Most popular it is as a sauce for pasta dishes. But it can also be used as a spread, pizza toppings and much more. Meanwhile, the most diverse varieties are offered in all supermarkets. Although the prices are relatively low, it is still worth making pesto yourself. Because in industrial production often substitutes are used and although the taste is comparable, inferior ingredients are used, and taste and feel of a home-made pesto is simply better.
The original ingredients include basil and pine nuts. Add garlic, olive oil and lots of cheese - the traditional pesto alla Genovese is ready! It is particularly intense in flavor, when used as a cheese Parmesan or Pecorino. Thanks to the intense green color and its own taste, it can be ideally combined with tomatoes or, for example, some zucchini. Incidentally, the traditional pesto alla Genovese refers to its origin in its name.
So, it is little controversial that this original pesto recipe stem from the Italian city of Genoa.
What other pesto varieties are there?
Although the traditional variant is certainly the most common, different variants have been created over time. Particularly well-known are the following varieties:
- alla siciliana
- alla calabrese
- wild garlic pesto
The variant alla siciliana is also known as "pesto rosso" and comes from Sicily. One already recognizes a significant difference in the name: it is not strong green, but red. This is because only very little basil is used in the preparation. Instead, mainly dried tomatoes are processed. And almonds are used instead of the pine nuts. The changed recipe makes it very easy to combine, for example, with paprika or meat.
If you prefer it a bit hotter you should go for the pesto alla calabrese! This variant from Calabria is spiced vigorously with paprika and pepper, so that it receives a special heat. To very hearty dishes the fruity-hot taste fits specially.
Popular in Europe: pesto with wild garlic!
Wild garlic sprouts only in spring and only for a very short time. This wild vegetable is related to chives, onions and garlic. So, it is also ideal for the preparation of a pesto. Wild garlic pesto enjoys great popularity in Germany and can easily be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks after preparation. If you take a walk through the woods in the spring anyway, keep your eyes open.
Finally, the wild garlic simply substitutes the basil for the preparation. Garlic should be avoided, however, or should be added only in very small quantities. After everything was creamed with oil and cheese, just season with salt and pepper and then the wild garlic pesto is ready and can be bottled after a short rest.
Wild garlic pesto tastes particularly good with mushroom dishes and is just as suitable as dressing for salads.
Why not buy pesto in the supermarket?
Of course, it is not for everyone to just make pesto yourself. Even if this is very fast, you have to clean a lot of oily dishes and the hand blender. But this effort is well worth it, because it tastes homemade is not just better but also fresher. It is also generally healthier.
Unfortunately, as explained earlier, industrial substitutes often use substitute ingredients that are much cheaper. For example, the comparatively expensive basil is often replaced by parsley. Cashew nuts are used instead of pine nuts and other vegetable oils are used instead of good olive oil. The taste is hardly different from the original, but advertising is often misleading. An exception is our Pepperworld brands such as Gitte's fire pot. These pesto specialties are handmade with love. You can taste it and you can see it on the list of ingredients :-)
However, it is critical to look for the additives. For preservation, for flavor enhancement and to spice up the appearance a variety of substances are added. Whether you should give up because of the price therefore a little work, is at least questionable. All the more so, if one looks at reports of the Consumer Organization. This has been found in some pesto bamboo fibers, among others, which are not even approved as a food or additive. Another common problem: lactic acid. Although it has a preservative effect, high amounts of it are questionable and it often acidifies the taste.
So, it pays to spend 15 minutes preparing your own pesto. Not only the health, especially the taste buds will thank you. In the end, the fresh preparation is ultimately not so much more expensive!
How can you make pesto yourself?
Pasta with pesto taste much better, if you have done everything yourself. Well, making noodles yourself is a bit more elaborate and maybe more for people who already have some cooking experience. But you can make a good, healthy pesto yourself. The preparation is extremely simple and done pretty quickly.
For simple green pesto you only need the following ingredients:
- basil, plucked
- pine nuts
- freshly grated and good, extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
First you roast the pine nuts in a small pan without the addition of oil. As soon as they start to smell, you can remove the pan from the heat. Now, crush the kernels in a mortar and add them to a blender with olive oil and some freshly chopped garlic (a hand blender can be used as well). The mixture is mashed briefly and then added the plucked basil. After another brief mixing, add the grated Parmesan cheese and mix gently until creamy.
It is important that there is not too much heat in the mixer. It would be nice to mix it intermittently instead of destroying the flavors with overheated blades. You can always add some olive oil to make the pesto creamier.
When done, spice the paste with some salt and pepper. Afterwards it has to rest for four hours, so that the aromas can develop properly. After filling (for example in jam jars), the pesto is finally well closed and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.
It's so easy to make and enjoy delicious pesto yourself!