[1] An impressive party dish or appetizer: cooked store-bought pesto with kalamata olives and pesto sauce. We adderd ciliegene, small mozzarella balls Here’s the recipe (both photos © DeLallo).


[2] Here, pesto is a salad dressing on this baby arugula, snap pea and burrata salad. Thin the pesto to desired consistency with olive oil. Here’s the recipe.


[3] Pesto is a great sauce for grilled or roasted fish, meat and poultry. This is an arugula pesto (photo © Sun Basket).

 

You may enjoy pesto on pasta, but what about beyond?

Pesto sauce traditionally* consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses. Salt is added for seasoning.

Here’s a recipe for homemade pesto. If you’d like to try other ingredients—cheeses, greens, nuts, oils—here’s a list of options.

Pesto originated in the Italian province of Liguria, where plots of sweet basil were plentiful. (The capital city of Liguria, Genoa, is the home of Christopher Columbus.)

Ligurians invented pesto sauce, crushing the ingredients with a mortar and pestle into a paste (pesto means paste in Italian).

Varying the amount of olive oil created a thinner sauce or a thicker spread.
 
 
MAKE YOUR OWN PESTO

It’s easy to make pesto at home. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle†, you can pulse the ingredients in a food processor.

Note: We tried it both ways, and the ground mortar and pestle version actually tasted more vibrant than the pulsed pesto.

We prefer it, unless we don’t want to take the extra time.

Here’s the classic recipe, plus tips to make a better pesto:

  • Classic Pesto Recipe
  • Pesto Tips
  •  
    Extra pesto can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to one week.

    Or, freeze it.

  • Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in plastic freezer bags for up to 6 months. Take out what you need for your recipe. Standard ice cube trays usually hold one ounce/2 tablespoons in each well, so each cube equals 2 tablespoons.
  • You also can freeze pesto in small plastic containers for up to 12 months.
  •  
     
    BEYOND PASTA: 14 NON-PASTA WAYS TO USE PESTO

  • Baked potatoes
  • Bread dipper
  • Breakfast Eggs
  • Bruschetta or Crostini
  • Dip or spread (with mayo or yogurt)
  • Grain Toppings
  • Grilled foods condiment
  • Marinades
  • Pizza and flatbread
  • Sandwiches and wraps
  • Soup garnish
  • Topping for fish, meat, poultry
  • Vegetables, including potatoes
  • Vinaigrette
  •  
     
    RECIPES: NON-PASTA WAYS TO USE PESTO

    15 Pesto Use Recipes
    21 Pesto Use Recipes
    Asparagus & Pesto Lasagna
    Broccoli Rabe & Pistachio Pesto With Burrata
    Pesto Cheese Spread
    Polenta & Pesto Lasagna

    ________________

    *Today, cooks switch out the ingredients to make modern pestos: different herbs or green vegetables, nuts and cheeses.

    †The mortar is the bowl, the pestle is the grinding tool. They were used to make both medicine and food. Ancient mortars and pestles found in Southwest Asia date back to approximately 35000 B.C.E. If that seems like a ridiculously long time ago, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa 300,000 years ago [source].

    The English word mortar derives from classical Latin mortarium, meaning, among other things, both receptacle for pounding and the product of grinding or pounding. The classical Latin pistillum, meaning “pounder,” evolved into the English pestle [source].

     
      


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