Piquant Pesto: Here’s How One Of Italy’s Favourite Sauces Came Into Being
- Preeti Deepa
Updated : June 16, 2022 02:06 IST
Pesto sauce is one of the most popular Italian sauces that are widely relished. But do you know when and where it originated?
If I begin to list some of my favourite Italian dishes, the vast array of sauces will surely make it to the top of the list. Italian sauces have a unique aroma, flavour and texture which have kept a majority of the population hooked to them. Be it the creamy Alfredo sauce or the decadent and flavourful Ragu, Italian sauces can go with anything and everything. Not gonna lie, I sometimes use my leftover Alfredo pasta sauce to spread on a flatbread and have it for breakfast. Keeping the other sauces for another time, let’s talk about the very popular pesto sauce today. Primarily made with basil and cheese and flavoured with pine nuts, garlic and extra virgin olive oil, pesto sauce has managed to tug at the heartstrings of millions.
Pesto is typical to the Liguria region which is filled with aromatic herbs. It is believed that the use of aromatic herbs for culinary purposes originated in the Middle Ages and the use of basil for flavouring purposes began back then in the Arab region. A legend has it that the origin of pesto is attributed to a friar who lived in a convent on the heights of Pra near Genoa. The friar used to collect medicinal herbs and stumbled upon basil or basilicum one day and mixed it with some other ingredients available with him to make the first pesto in history. However, the original recipe of pesto dates back to the second half of the 19th century when Giovanni Battista Ratto, a well-known gastronome wrote it in his book ‘The Genoese Cuisine’. The recipe consisted of basil, garlic, dutch cheese and parmesan cheese and was used for dressing Lasagne and Gnocchi.
To make pesto at home, you need fresh basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, salt and parmesan cheese. To start with, crush garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle along with salt. Next, add the basil leaves and turn them into a shiny liquid. Add pine nuts and make a creamy paste. Start adding the cheese gradually and your pesto is ready when everything is incorporated well. Below is a detailed recipe for you to try.