Pesto information & hints

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient
\N \N Basil, cheese, nut, oil



The Genoese are known for dropping the ends of words and that's probably how Pesto al Basilico became shortened to pesto. Pesto comes from a verb (pestare in Italian) that just means "pounded". In Genoa the preparation of this sauce is steeped in years of tradition. It must be pounded with a marble pestle in a marble mortar, only the Genoese basil, bathed by salty sea air as it grows will do; the purest versions contain nothing but basil, cheese, garlic and olive oil. The classic pesto contains two kinds of cheese, a little Parmesan and young, sharp Sardinian pecorino or pecorino romano and pine nuts or pignoli, extracted from the cones of the stone pine.

Pesto and the other green sauces of Italy all predate the tomato.

Many had their origin in Roman times, when they were frequently used to disguise the flavors of overripe meats and other deteriorating foods. DISCOLORATION: To prevent the discoloration of basil pesto, be sure that the basil leaves are dry before you puree them, and pour a thin layer of oil over the top of the pesto to keep the air out. Add about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for every pint of pesto to counteract the browning. PREPARATION: Toast the nuts (eight to ten minutes in a 325 degrees oven) for extra flavor. Unsalted, roasted pistachios can be used in place of the more-expensive pine nuts. Be sure the herbs you use are dry. Rinse, then either pat them dry in absorbent paper towels or use a salad spinner. Taste the herbs before you use them and balance the more assertive ones (such as dill, oregano and rosemary) with spinach or parsley, preferably flat-leafed parsley.

Use quality ingredients - extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Wait until the end of cooking time of recipes to add pesto. Heat diminishes the taste and muddies the color. Often in Italy the pesto is thinned by adding to it 1 or 2 tablespoons of the hot spaghetti water before mixing it with the pasta. STORING: Although you can prepare the pesto in advance and store it in the refrigerator, it is preferable to eat them freshly made. Sun-dried tomato and olive pesto can be kept for up to a week stored in the refrigerator. Freezing pesto is not recommended because the texture gets mushy. SUGGESTIONS: Top slices of focaccia with pesto and shard of dry Monterey Jack cheese; to angel-hair pasta with grilled scallops and pesto (dill or garlic chive go especially well); garnish grilled polenta, sauteed crab cakes and warm quesadillas. Flavor vinaigrettes, salsas, tomato or cream sauces, soups, and stews with pesto, instead of fresh herbs. Brush broiled chicken with pest to taste about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time. Serve with tomatoes. Season mayonaise with a tablespoon or two of pesto when making a potato salad. To 4 scrambled eggs, add 1 tablespoon pesto.

Sage pesto is wonderful on a baked potato. Arugula pesto with green beans, cous cous or risotto Sorrel pesto is very exciting because of its gorgeous color. sources: "Food Day" in the Daily Review, by Paula Hamilton, Food Editor, July 6, 1994 and "Pesto" by Lou Seibert Pappas, Chronicle Books $9.95"Rice, Spice and Bitter Oranges, Mediterranean Foods & Festivals" by Lila Perl, World Publishing, 1967, 67-23361, page 121 "Silver Palate Cookbook" by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins with Michael McLaughlin, Workman Publishing, New York, 1982, "Summer Pastas" page 80 ISBN 0-89480-203-8, typed by Dorothy Hair 7/7/94


Similar recipes