Classic Pesto and some Classy Variations – How to make the Perfect Pesto.
The word pesto literally means pounded. So although there’s a common belief that pesto should be made with basil, there are plenty of rather delicious alternatives around. Classic Genoese pesto is, of course, made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and cheese – but the pesto recipe is so carefully protected that you need to use the right basil, Italian pine nuts, Ligurian olive oil, garlic from a specific village near Genoa and Pecorino Sardo if you want to compete in the World Pesto Championships.
Heaven forbid you make your pesto in a blender. Genoese Pesto prepared using a marble mortar and wooden pestle is a gastronomic peculiarity of Liguria. When I visited, I learnt that it is regarded as an essential part of food culture there – making pesto is a part of life. And, that led to the creation of the Genoa Pesto World Championship in 2007 by the Palatifini Cultural Association, intended to help training new generations and safeguard the regional culinary heritage. Now, there’s an application for Genoese Pesto prepared using a marble mortar and wooden pestle at the Italian National Commission for UNESCO as a best practice of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Supported by the Liguria Region, the Chamber of Commerce of Genoa and Unioncamere Liguria, the Municipality of Genoa, the University and countless other Ligurian Municipalities, cultural and business associations, it will be interesting to see what happens!
For the rest of us, pesto is one of those recipes that we learn to make to our own taste. I particularly like my own Nut-Free Pesto or Pistou which is lighter and works well as a dressing for fish. But, I’m intrigued by the idea of a Wild Garlic Pesto too – and I really do like the idea of the pistachio pesto that originates in Sicily.
Do you have a favourite Pesto? Let me know!