Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Pesto is a basil sauce that originated in the city of Genova in theLiguria region of northwest Italy.Italian purist insist that pesto can only be made using locally- grown Genoese basil, a small leafed variety with a delicate taste.The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle

As I don't have the time and energy to make pesto in old fashioned way, I use food processor or grinder or blender as it is much quicker and tastes wonderful! Pesto taste great if you use a day later i.e. let the flavours of garlic and basil infuse in olive oil.

Well the history of Pesto is very long and is dated as old as ancient Romans. The ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, which was made by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together.[1] Basil, the main ingredient of modern pesto, likely originated in India and was first domesticated there. [4] Basil took the firmest root in the regions of Liguria, Italy and Provence, France. The Ligurians around Genoa took the dish and adapted it, using a combination of basil, crushed garlic, grated hard cheese (a mix of parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino or just one of the two), and pine nuts with a little olive oil to form pesto. The first mention of recipe for pesto as it is known today, is from the book La Cuciniera Genovese written in 1863 by Giovanni Battista Ratto.[1] In French Provence, the dish evolved into the modern pistou, a combination of basil, parsley, crushed garlic, and grated cheese (optional). Pine nuts are not included.

Because pesto is a generic term for anything that is made by pounding, there are various other pestos, some traditional, some modern.[8] Pesto alla genovese is made with Genovese basil, salt, garlic, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil (Taggiasco), European pine nuts (sometimes toasted) and a grated cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano and pecorino Sardo or pecorino romano.[6]
A slightly different version of the sauce exists in Provence, where it is known as pistou. In contrast with pesto genovese, pistou is, in general, made with olive oil, basil, and garlic only: While cheese may be added, usually in a traditional pesto no nuts are included because no pine trees grow in there to provide the nuts. Pistou is used in the typical soupe au pistou, a hearty vegetable soup with pistou flavour. The sauce did not originally contain basil, however. Instead, cheese and olive oil were the main constituents.[9]
Sometimes almonds are used instead of pine nuts, and sometimes mint leaves are mixed in with the basil leaves.[9]

Pesto alla siciliana, sometimes called pesto rosso (red pesto), is a sauce from Sicily similar to pesto genovese but with the addition of tomato, almonds instead of pine nuts, and much less basil. Pesto alla calabrese is a sauce from Calabria consisting of (grilled) bell peppers, black pepper and more; these ingredients give it a distinctively spicy taste.

Think we should move towards making of Pesto with slight variation in the ingredients used i.e. have replaced pine nuts with almonds and walnut as pine nuts are expensive and also not very easy to get in all places. I usually make pesto without exact measurement but as am posting have track record for giving exact proportions. There is no such standard recipe or rule for making pesto used your tasting palette for creating your own version of pesto.

Preparation time : 20 mins
Cooking time: nil
Serving : 1 cup


  • 11/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Pine nuts *
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigaino chesse *
  • 3 cloves of garlic *
  •  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Sea salt / salt as per taste
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Choose younger basil leaves for best flavour. Wash them in cold water and discard the stems.
  2. Roast nuts in pan.
  3. In food processor  or blender process garlic, nuts and salt or 15 to 20 seconds.
  4. Using spatula scrape the sides add basil, lime juice and EVOO and belnd by using pulse technique to shred basil leaf. This helps to extract all falvours and oil from basil.
  5. Add grated cheese and blend for 30 seconds.
  6. Can store pesto at room temp for 2 to 3 days/ a week to 10 days in refrigerate.
  7. Serves best with pastas, bruschetta, lasagna.
* Note : 
  • Can use almonds, pistachios, walnuts instead of pine nut
  • Have used vegetarian parmigiano cheese.
  • For Jain version of Pesto skip use of garlic.
Tips : 
Use fresh basil only as stale or darkened basil will not give the same result.

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