Originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy, the delicious table sauce called pesto, is a rich part of the Italian culinary tradition, and dates as far back as the 12th and 13th century. Now commonly used all over the world to enhance food and tantalize our palates, pesto has become so much more than just a bowl put on the table alongside all of the other condiments. It is ever present on our shopping lists and is seldom missing from ingredients on a restaurant menu.
What is Pesto?
The traditionally bright green pesto which we all associate with this sauce, is made from the fresh leaves of the aromatic herb basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. The word pesto is the past tense of the Genoese verb pestare, which means to crush. This is what was traditionally done to all of the above ingredients in a pestle and mortar as they were blended to make the delicious condiment we know and love. We dollop it onto sandwiches, stir it into pastas and spoon it into soups, using it with gusto to bring an Italian flare to our cooking.
The Pesto Evolution
As with most things though, time changes everything and people invent, reinvent, change and evolve products to suit changing tastes and trends. Pesto is no different!
We all love to experiment in the kitchen, sometimes out of necessity when we find our pantry is missing an ingredient, and maybe this is how some of the best recipes came into being. The traditional ingredients used in pesto can be interchanged, basil with red pepper, coriander, parsley, kale or rocket. The rather expensive and often scarce pine nuts can be replaced by walnuts, almonds, cashews or pecan nuts and of course one can use avocado or sesame oil in place of olive oil. The traditional parmesan can be substituted with pecorino, feta or any other hard cheese. The combination possibilities are endless.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Pesto Princess as a company has changed the face of pesto with their wide range of pesto’s available on our Wildsprout online store, fit to compliment almost any meal. The iconic basil pesto is now having to share its limelight with Thai Pesto containing coriander and cashews, Greek Pesto with feta and olives, Red Pepper Pesto with roasted red peppers and the Harissa Paste which will spice up any dish it accompanies. The ingredients contained in these products are sourced from sustainable farms which use organic sprays for pest control. Pesto Princess, like Wildsprout, believe in supporting small local farms where possible and protect the environment by packaging their pesto products in recyclable glass bottles.
Anyone can be a whizz in the kitchen with pesto. How do you use it you ask? Well, how do you not! Traditionally added to pasta, it is absolutely delicious on your pizza, add it to stews, pop it into a dip or in your mashed potato. Adding this versatile sauce to marinades or dressings will compliment chicken, fish or any meat in fact, and is a natural partner to vegetables whether roasted or in a salad. You can try it with your omelette at breakfast time or simply spread it on crusty breads at a braai.
When next doing your shopping at Wildsprout, remember to pop a bottle of Pesto Princess into your basket and when next you entertain, whether friends or family, you will be hailed as a master chef! Presto with pesto!