Pesto is a sauce that contains crushed basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. No. Some may be similar to one another, but no two are identical. The recipe is really simple though. Remember?
Teacher: Can anybody tell me what pesto is?
Student: Oh, I know! Oh, call on me! Okay. So it’s a sauce that contains crushed up basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. But teacher, what if instead of parmesan I use pecorino? Yeah! And you know what, pine nuts are way too expensive so instead of pine nuts, I’m going to use sunflower seeds. And some people like it dry, but I like it creamy. With coconut flakes. Auntie Mabel sprinkles coconut flakes into hers. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Teacher: Exactly, young padawan. But tell me , when do we use pesto?
Student: Oh, I know!
Programs of Pesto
The earliest known use of the word”pesto” dates back to Italy during the Maritime Republic. In 1865, an Italian chef named Giovanni Battista Ratto was the first to publish a recipe which included pesto made from basil. In his recipe, pesto was used as a pasta sauce. Today, it is still primarily used as a pasta sauce. Over time, however, the uses of pesto have multiplied. People put it on sandwiches. People put it in tea. Yup–that’s right. Folks make pesto based sauces. People put it on pizza. People drizzle everything over eggs. People bake it into bread. And, the writer’s personal favorite, some individuals have ingeniously mixed pesto into mayonnaise, thus forming a hybrid kind invention, a smooth and tangy beast. Some people may call it basil aioli, but don’t be fooled. Pesto mayo is bottled lightning.
A Little Cloud
Back to our initial query. Is pesto just a sauce? Is pesto nothing more than smashed up basil, garlic, cheese and pine nuts wrapped in olive oil? The author’s response to this philosophical conundrum is that it is impossible to pigeonhole”pesto” into a single form or use. Rather, to understand the true, fluid essence of pesto, we have to view it as something similar to a cloud that is constantly, yet ever so slightly, changing shape.
Rather than examining the question”What is Pesto?” In a traditional, canned way, we should try to comprehend the word”pesto” as a broad label for a sauce that can take on many forms and uses. We feel as though maintaining an open mind concerning the question”What is pesto?” Allows room for growth and creativity so that we pesto enthusiasts can continue to break through culinary barriers and challenge yet delight our taste buds.