Friday, August 10, 2012

Pesto Genovese!

One of the simplest ways to add a little summer to your dishes is to use aromatic Mediterranean herbs. One of the most popular and probably easiest to grow is basil.

Like most kitchen herbs basil has some important health benefits. The herb is very rich antioxidant polyphenols, beta-carotene compounds including zeaxantihin, vitamin K, iron, potassium and manganese. Basil kills bad bacteria and has the capacity to reduce inflammation  in the body.

Basil is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. One of the most popular is the Italian pesto sauce.

Pesto was first mentioned by a Roman writer Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC – 19 BC), better known as Vergil, who wrote about this olive oil based sauce in his work "Bucolics". 

The name pesto derives from the fact that was originally made by crashing - pestando in Italian - the ingredients in a mortar.

  • small bunch of fresh, organic basil leaves
  • handful of raw, organic pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 Tbsp of virgin olive oil
  • small chunk of parmigiano reggiano cheese (skip the cheese if you are a vegan)
  • Celtic salt to taste 

  • Use mortar and pestle if you have one, but a good blender will do the job just as well. 
  • Remove basil leaves from the twigs, wash and dry them gently with a kitchen towel. 
  • Crash garlic with salt. Add pine nuts. After the nuts have been crashed, add the basil leaves little by little. Crash or blend. Remember, that the longer you crash/blend the darker the pesto would become as the basil leaves undergo the oxidation process. 
  • Break the cheese into small chunks and put them into blender. Add the olive oil. Blend again until pesto is nice and creamy. Add more salt if needed. 

You may add some freshly ground pepper, although the original Ligurian recipe does not ask for any.

Enjoy your pesto with raw zucchini pasta or on a fresh Essene bread. Buon appetito!

By Dominique Allmon ©2012


Your pesto will stay fresh for a few days in a refrigerator. Place it in a clean glass jar. Pour some olive oil to cover it up. This will prevent it from spoiling. Close tightly with a well fitting lid.

I love the original recipe. If you are a vegan you may want to replace the cheese with raw nuts. I would probably add pre-soaked Brazil nuts to produce the texture of the non-vegan pesto.

Images source here


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