It is the authentic Italian green treasure. The iconic pesto, the King of all the green sauces, is the classic basil “Pesto Genovese” after Genova, a spectacular coastal city in the northwestern region of Liguria. Pesto is the second most sold sauce in the world. It should be served rigorously cold.
THE OFFICIAL RECIPE OF PESTO GENOVESE
The Italian word “pesto” means pounded, crushed (Italian: [ˈpesto]; Ligurian: [ˈpestu]). The ancient Romans used a similar sauce. It was a moretum (herb, cheese spread) and was without basil. The modern recipe was first reported in 1863 by gastronomist Giovanni Battista Ratto in his famous book La Cuciniera Genovese. Today the official and authentic recipe is regulated by “Consorzio del Pesto Genovese” and is made with only 7 ingredients: Genovese fresh basil DOP, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino cheese “Fiore Sardo”, pine nuts, garlic, and salt.
WOODEN PESTLE AND MARBLE MORTAR
Traditionally, pesto was made rigorously by hand pounding the ingredients using a wooden pestle and marble mortar. Today the blender is accepted even by the culinary purists! The traditional pasta for pesto sauce is “trofie”, a short, twisted pasta. It is from Liguria, of course. You could use also “testaroli” (a specialty pasta of Northern Tuscany) or “trenette” (a long pasta from Liguria). Please don't use pesto on bruschetta or pizza if an Italian is at your table!
SOME REGIONAL VARIATIONS
Italian cuisine, as you already know, is very regional. Having said that, Sicilians have their own “Pesto alla trapanese” (from the Province of Trapani). This sauce is the red Sicilian response to Genovese more famous pesto. The main ingredients are tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, extra virgin olive oil, pecorino, and almonds. A green version of the Sicilian pesto is made, Parmigiano, basil, and Bronte pistachios. This extremely fine pistachio is one of the best in the world and is produced in Bronte, a village on Etna volcano, in Sicily.
THE PERFECT SAUCE
Last but not least, pesto is also considered an aphrodisiac food! If you don’t feel to do it at home or if you don’t have time to find all the ingredients, you should try Agromonte’s fantastic basil pesto made only with the best organic basil. It is simply delicious and very easy to use. Seeing is believing!
- Donatella Mulvoni