There is no such thing as spaghetti sauce

And there is no one thing that is pesto.


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If you hang around with American Italians they seem to live for red sauce and cheese. They often glop it onto food and call it Italian. It is all about the Sugo, the Gravy, the Pomodoro, the Marinara, and everyone had a grandmother who made it better than anyone else.

The secret is the garlic, the sausage, the basil the thyme, the carrot, and you have to remove the onion before serving and you have to…….blah blah blah. I follow Italian cooking groups on Facebook and many have no idea the food they are preparing is not Italian at all.

I have given you a basic tomato sauce recipe and now it is time for Pesto…but which one? Pesto mean paste and there are as many pesto as there are days in the year. One with basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese became famous in the US because some chefs from Genoa introduced it and there is no question that is is delicious. I love it, but when traveling around Italy and working in kitchens I was shocked by the number of simple pesto being made. It was not uncommon to take bits of what was left at the end of the night and make a pesto for the staff. I have had them made with pumpkin and hazelnuts, peppers and walnuts, pistachio and parsley. I will share a few but my suggestion is that you let your imagination run wild and play with your pesto.

Mushroom Pesto

Mushrooms are good for the immune system so this is a great pesto to have around, dress the pasta with it (always a little of the pasta water to thin it) throw in some vegetables (frozen are fine) and enjoy a savory and delicious meal.

1 pound mixed mushrooms, whatever you can find and dried mushrooms, soaked overnight work wonderfully.

Butter

Oil

1 small onion or large shallot chopped

White wine

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup romano or other hard cheese

1/2 cup Pecans or other nuts

Squeeze of lemon

Black pepper to taste

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Saute the mushrooms in the butter/oil combo til they begin to brown.

Throw everything into the food processor or blender and turn into a pasta. Taste, adjust salt as needed and enjoy a delicious meal.

Pistachio pesto

1 cup shelled pistachio

2 cups flat leaf parsley

2 cups basil

2 cloves garlic

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

About 1 cup olive oil

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper as needed

Pulverize in the food processor, taste and adjust if needed.

I made this last night and have enough for several meals. I never get tired of it.

Now go…be creative, Spinach, arugula, chives, sage, nuts of all kinds, garlic or no garlic. It is all fair game in the pesto making challenge. And if any of you create something original and delicious….I will be happy to share it and credit you.

Published by Chef Wilder

A chef who has been specializing in Food tourism for several years. I decided to launch this to put in one place some of the simplest ways of making food primarily because I am seeing people in the grocery for often the first time due to the Corona outbreak who have no idea what to do with food once they get it home. In the US I became known as the Food Stamp Chef for publicly taking on both the establishment in D.C. and personally living under a food stamp budget twice in my life for two months at a time. #SocialSolidarity

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