Pesto Traditions and Varieties

April 22, 2007  •  Condiments, Technique

When you think of pesto, I’m sure the traditional basil pesto comes to mind. From the Ligurian region of Italy, Pesto alla Geneovese combines basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts or pine nuts and Parmigiano cheese. In this region, they insist there is a single correct type of pasta to serve with this pesto – trofie which is like an uneven rolled gemelli pasta that the sauce clings to. I’ve had this in Portofino and it’s to die for!

But around the world pesto means any kind of ground paste sauce (pesto comes from the verb pestare, to pound). Try different greens like arugula, cilantro or spinach, vary the cheese or leave it out, and experiment with different nuts. For a lighter version of the traditional basil pesto, add the juice and zest of a lemon and an orange, and reduce the olive oil. This is fabulous over grilled fish or chicken in the summer with a nice big green salad.

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