BASIL PESTO – HOME MADE
Today we talk about His Majesty, the Pesto Genovese (Pesto from Genua).
Pesto is a cold sauce, a synonym and symbol for Genoa and the whole Ligurian region. For some decades now, it has been one of the best known and most popular sauces in the world.
Historically speaking, Liguria has always been the homeland and cradle of aromatic herbs (it is no coincidence that La Spezia owes its name to the practical spice trade it had in the area).
The name of the sauce comes from the original preparation method. The leaves and other ingredients were in fact crushed in the traditional murta’ (mortar).
In the Middle Ages, the use of herbs was common to flavour poor dishes or enrich and decorate them.
This recipe seems to date back to a much older one, agliadda (from aglio which means garlic). This was a garlic-based mortar sauce that was used for the preservation of cooked food.
The first to mention the modern version of pesto was Giovanni Battista Ratto in La Cucina Genovese around 1870.
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THE RECIPE: “BASIL PESTO FROM GENUA – PESTO GENOVESE” HOMEMADE
INGREDIENTS (for 2 people)
Basil leaves (small-leaf Genoese basil), 25g
Extra virgin olive oil, 50ml
Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, 35g
Pecorino PDO, 15g
Garlic, 1 or 2 cloves
Pine nuts, 8g
Walnuts (optional, instead of pine nuts)
Coarse salt, 1 pinch
PREPARATION OF THE BASIL PESTO:
Clean the basil leaves with a soft cloth without washing them.
In a marble mortar, put the peeled garlic together with a few grains of coarse salt. Stir until the garlic becomes a cream-like texture.
Add the pine nuts while stirring constantly.
Add the basil leaves until you get a bright green liquid.
Finally, slowly add the cheese, again stirring constantly.
Soften the dough by adding the olive oil, pouring it very slowly until you get a homogeneous sauce.
If you don’t have a mortar, you can use a blender.
The pesto is ready!
TIPS & CURIOSITIES
You can keep the freshly prepared pesto in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, making suree the sauce is covered in oil.
It is possible to freeze pesto in small jars.
To get an excellent pesto genovese, the basil leaves must be dry and not wrinkled.
Basil oxidizes. It is therefore important to work it quickly (exposure to oxygen is one of the reasons for oxidation) and avoid heating it (high temperatures also causes oxidation).
If you do not use the mortar but the blender, it is important to blend at the lowest speed and pulse (stop and start again). Another trick is to leave the blades and cup in the fridge for an hour before use.
There are countless variations that involve the use of almonds, pistachios, mint, ricotta, rocket, aubergines … in short, the imagination in the kitchen never fails.