Pasta, Pesto, Please

| May 12, 2010

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like fresh homemade pesto? It is one of the easiest and tastiest sauces out there.

Having grown up in the Mediterranean, pesto was always a steady staple in my diet and one of my favorites from an early age. Pesto sauce originates from Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy. Genoa is also known for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, a rather famous sailor who happened across America on a trip to the West Indies. For all we know he was probably gulping down a plate spaghetti with pesto before hitting land!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia 🙂

In its most traditional preparation, pesto is made with a marble mortar with a wooden pestle, in fact I should add that the word “pesto” is taken from the italian verb “pestare” which essentially means to beat or to crush.  That said, I generally tend to opt for the electric blender preparation approach.  Time is always of the essence when it comes to pesto for me, but I will invest in a nice marble mortar one of these days.

The basic ingredients in pesto are generally: basil, garlic, parmigiano reggiano, pine nuts, and olive oil. Variations and additions of ingredients that I have dabbled with include Pecorino cheese, fresh vine tomatoes, and hazel nuts. Oh and at some point along the way, being that she is from Ireland, my mother introduced potatoes to the equation. The thing with the potatoes though is that you dice one or two and boil them along with the pasta. You then strain them with the pasta and mix in the pesto.

It is hard for me to give a proper recipe with measurements for pesto as I have only ever made it in a very ab lib manner. My preference is to have lots of parmigiano in it and fresh tomatoes. I generally start off the blending process by throwing in the pine nuts, tomatoes and garlic in the bottom and then stuffing plenty of basil leafs. I then throw in the grated parmigiano and start adding plenty of olive oil until it gets a consistent paste.

So, what are your favorite variations of pesto?  How have you experimented with uses for the magical green paste?

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Category: Europe, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Main Dish - Vegetarian, Recipe Vault, Sides, Sauces, and Breads, Travel & Culture

About the Author (Author Profile)

Kat is not only a whiz at online new media and social networking–is the brains getting this site up and running!–but she’s also a monster on the tennis courts. Her penchant for honesty and genuine pursuit to lead a good life has garnered her many fans, although she is far too modest to even realize this. A connoisseur of espressos, cappuccinos and Italian/Irish gastronomy, Kat will gladly share her opinions in one of four languages. Check out Kat’s site if you need help with your social media and web communications strategies www.kathleenholmlund.com

Comments (13)

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  1. a Nordn'Ireland dad says:

    ‘At’s my girl! Could eat this stuff morning, noon and night!

  2. Tsering says:

    oohhh….i love pesto….I like the potato twist!

  3. Juliana says:

    I love pesto but never made it from scratch…should give a try one of this day since have all of the ingredients handy 🙂 Love your pictures 🙂

  4. Jeanne says:

    Basil and garlic are my favorite components of pesto. I love the combination of potatoes and pesto!

  5. Citadel Moon says:

    I love this! I am going to try it this weekend sans pine nuts!

  6. Kat says:

    Yeay! Have fun making the pesto ladies!!! It’s so easy 🙂 Oh, and I can’t take credit for the marble mortar and ingredients shot, that was courtesy of Wikipedia 😉

  7. Simply Life says:

    I love pesto as well and that fresh basil makes it clear it will make a delicious sauce!!!

  8. MaryMoh says:

    I love to eat but have not made it myself. I would love to try one of these days and pour over pasta….mmmm….delicious. I love with pine nuts added.

  9. I totally agree! Pesto should be made from scratch! It is not that difficult after all and the taste is so so much better!

  10. You know I love pesto but have never tried making it myself. I love the way you wrote your recipe 🙂 That’s how I like to cook or prepare food, a little of this a little of that 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  11. Molly says:

    Asparagus Pesto! Mark Bittman has a recipe which is basically just boil the asparagus until it’s slightly tender, throw it in a food processor with garlic, pine nuts (I used walnuts), salt, pepper and olive oil and you’re done. I had it last night with ravioli and it was terrific! You can get his actual recipe from his NYTimes blog.

  12. Kat says:

    Pesto with asparagus! certainly different, but definitely worth a try 🙂 Yeah, I have to say that when it comes to most of my Italian cooking I base it on a little bit of this and a little bit of that without a fixed recipe. The main thing I find with Italian cooking is to have the high quality ingredients and the just flow with them really.

  13. Very lovely pictures and I am a huge fan of pesto sauces…thanks for visiting me so often…I love your page 🙂