Welcome to the Wonderful World of Pesto
The recipe for classic pesto that many of us enjoy today can be traced back to ancient Rome. However, many countries have created several pesto variations, including a recipe that uses fermented nettle.
What do you know about making pesto?
Um? It's green. Right? I'm thinking there's the basil herb and pine nuts in the recipe. That's it!
Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a faraway land, a young lady discovered the joys of food blogs, TV cooking shows, and the ease of searching for recipes using Twitter. Her food world was changed forever.
That lady was me. Food blogs, cooking shows, and Twitter opened up a whole new world for me and showed me what world cuisine and food diversity is all about.
The classic pesto recipe includes basil and pine nuts.
The pesto used mainly in Italian and Italian-American cuisine originated in Genoa, Italy but it can be traced back to the ancient Romans. Pesto is so much a part of the Genoese culture that people go there to participate in a bi-annual World Pesto Championship. Professional chefs and amateur cooks are allowed to compete. Emiliano Pescarolo won the 2018 Championship. His occupation? Diver. Pesto enthusiasts believe that Genoese Pesto is a cultural asset and that it should be a part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
But did you know there is also Mexican pesto? Instead of pine nuts, the recipe uses pumpkin seeds. Instead of basil, it's cilantro.
There's also Thai pesto. Basil is used. Only it's Thai basil; not Italian basil. Peanuts. Not pine nuts.
There are hundreds of other recipe variations or versions for pesto. Here are a few more.
♦ Artichoke Pesto: Azlin Bloor is a professional chef. At her food blog you can find recipes representing various parts of the world: Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy and other places. She shared her recipe for artichoke pesto. The marinated artichokes are the substitute for nuts and parsley is the basil substitute. It's a quick and easy recipe and can be eaten on pasta or potatoes. You can even spread it like mayonnaise on your sandwich.
♦ Fermented Nettle Pesto: The pesto recipe published by Mother Earth News uses fermented nettle. Nettle, also called Stinging nettle, is touted for its many health benefits. So it's not only edible, it's medicinal. People often make it as a tea to drink. Some people even turn it into beer. Fermented foods are said to be good for healthy intestines. Fermenting the nettle leaves and using them to make pesto is different. This plant grows wild so you might not be able to find it in the produce department of an everyday grocery store.
♦ Carrot Pesto: Carley Smith is a Nutritional Therapist aka your “fairygutmother”. She says instead of throwing away your carrot or beet tops, use them to make pesto. Very smart of her to come up with a healthy way to use parts of vegetables that we often discard. Don't you think so?
♦ Vegan Pesto: This recipe from Healing Tomato is vegan-friendly. That means it has no cheese. But that's fine because with the scallions and cashews, you probably won't miss that particular ingredient.
♦ Easy Pea Pesto: The final recipe might take you by surprise. Have you ever thought to make the key ingredient in your pesto recipes frozen green peas? Parsley replaces the basil. But most of the other traditional ingredients from classic pesto are included.
Pesto was served during meals in ancient Rome. But it has traveled through time and is now served all around the world.
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