The past month, Eatsperience Madrid had the pleasure to be invited again to The Kitchen Counter Podcast, this time to talk about one of my favorite family recipes: Pesto!

For those who are from Liguria, a region on the North-West coast of Italy, the term pesto represents only one thing, basil pesto from Genova. A creamy green sauce made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, EVO oil, salt, and cheese.

 

However, there are several types of pesto. Let’s dive in a little bit!

Pesto! With Isotta Peira

THE ORIGINS OF THE NAME PESTO

The term pesto comes from the verb “pestare” which means “to pound, to crush“. We obtain this sauce by crushing the ingredients together, and so the sauce (in Italian “sugo“, m.) is “crushed”, which is “pestato” or “pesto” in Italian.

Knowing that, every sauce you obtain by pounding together all the ingredients, can be a pesto. You can make sundry tomato pesto, zucchini pesto, radicchio and walnuts, and so on.

I want to share with you 3 of my favorite pesto recipes, which are:

  • Basil pesto, the recipe I learned from my Nonna Lilia from Genova, my dad’s mom.
  • Pistachio pesto, a classic of the Sicilian culinary tradition
  • Rocket pesto, for those who love arugula.

BASIL PESTO

Ingredients for 150g approx.:

  • 50 g basil from Genova Pra (very small leaves, the flavor is a little bitter and no minty)
  • 35 g Parmesan cheese
  • 10 g Pecorino cheese from Sardinia
  • 8 g Pine nuts
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 60 ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch Salt

Nonna Lilia’s Preparation:

1. Blend garlic and pine nuts with a part of the olive oil

2. Add the basil, the salt (only one pinch because we’re using salty cheese), and blend again while pouring the rest of the oil

3. Add the grated cheeses and, if needed, a little bit more oil

If the blender gets too hot, the green from the basil becomes dark, and you don’t want that. Make sure you don’t overheat the pesto, take some pauses while blending. You can also prepare the kitchen robot (food processor/blender) ahead and keep it cold with ice cubes inside.

If you’re making the pesto a few days in advance, you can skip the cheese step and add them the day you’re going to use it. You keep the pesto in a closed jar, and you cover it with a small layer of EVO oil to maintain it better. You can freeze it in small portions to use whenever you need it.

Pasta al pesto

PESTO DI PISTACCHI (Pistachio Pesto)

Ingredients for 400g approx:

  • 200 g Unsalted pistachios (shelled)
  • 35 g Grana Padano PDO (or Parmesan cheese)
  • 1/2 Lemon zest
  • 1/2 garlic clove Garlic
  • 100 ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml Water
  • 3 leaves Basil (the big leaves, the most common type of Basil, the one with a minty-ish flavor)
  • Salt up to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Cook the pistachios in boiling water for 5 minutes
  2. Cool them down and remove the peel
  3. Transfer to a blender and blend with basil, cheese, oil, garlic, and lemon zest
  4. Add the water, black pepper, salt, and blend again until you reach a smooth texture

PESTO DI RUCOLA – Rocket (arugula) pesto

Ingredients for 400g approx:

  • 100g Rocket
  • 150g Extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g Pine nuts
  • 50g Grana Padano PDO (or Parmesan cheese)
  • 50g Pecorino
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt up to taste

Preparation:

1. Wash and dry the rocket and transfer to a blender with all the other ingredients except the oil

2. Blend while adding the oil little by little, until reaching a smooth texture.

Interested in learning more about Pesto, its tradition, and curiosity? Listen to The Kitchen Counter Podcast episode: <Pesto! With Isotta Peira>!

Homemade basil pesto