The thought of Summer brings several things to mind…long sunny days, outdoor markets, produce, and pesto!! Pesto is the wonderful summer treat that changes how we decorate pastas, meats, vegetables and more!
Pesto has its origins in Genoa and derives its name from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or crush. Pesto is traditionally prepared in a mortar and pestle, but is easily whipped up in minutes with the modern convenience of a food processor. (The traditional method is certainly superior, so if time and energy are not an issue, relish in the joy of making pesto according to its namesake!)
Traditional Genoese pesto is made of fresh Sweet Basil, delicate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese, and Pine Nuts. Equally delicious are the many variations of pesto, which will to invigorate your summer cooking. Try our recipe for Kale Garlic Walnut Pesto or consider these options:
Mint makes for such a vibrantly fresh sauce to accompany lamb, potatoes, vegetables, fruit and more. It works well on its own with a 100% EVOO or with a Lemon Olive Oil and just a pitch of salt…without nuts or cheese. Try this over fresh watermelon and with grilled lamb and potatoes. It's also is delicious using half mint and half basil plus ricotta salata cheese.
Spicy arugula pesto is perfectly paired with pasta. Arugula is pungent and can be combined with basil or basil and mint to offset some of the spiciness, but allow the arugula flavors to dominate. Pungent Parmigiano or Pecorino is a nice addition.
For Latin freshness and flair, make a pesto of fresh cilantro and Jalapeño Agrumato Olive Oil. A pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon or lime make the sauce complete. Serve with fish, seafood, chicken, mango and fresh fruits, or over avocados.
A savory pesto that goes well over soups and meats, sage brings deep, earthy flavors to the dish. Combine with walnuts or almonds to serve over pasta or with roasted vegetables. For more complex flavor, make the sage pesto with our Leek Agrumato Olive Oil.
Pine Nuts are expensive and hard to find; walnuts are a wonderful nut alternative in pesto. In Sicily there is a delicious pesto consisting solely of walnuts, fresh ricotta, a pinch or salt and pepper, and of course olive oil. Add tomato paste or opt to leave it out. Use Rosemary Agrumato Olive Oil or 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is great with pasta, but can also be served with eggplant, potatoes, and more!
Ricotta is a delicious cheese to use in pesto. For a sweet and creamy sauce, choose fresh ricotta. For a more savory sauce, choose ricotta salata. Both ricotta pestos make an ideal pizza toppings.