And there is no one thing that is pesto.
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.
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.
1 small onion or large shallot chopped
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.
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.