The city of Genoa, located on the northern coast of the Ligurian Sea in Italy, is considered the birthplace of pesto sauce. Its name comes from the Italian verb "pestare", which translates as "to rub, pound, grind". From here it is not difficult to guess how the famous Italian sauce is prepared: all its components are carefully ground with a pestle in a mortar.
Some hostesses chop the ingredients with a blender or food processor for faster cooking, but this is not entirely correct. The fact is that basil from oxidation with iron is oxidized and soon becomes brown, losing its fresh green color.
Ligurians are very proud of their sauce and even organize an annual championship in its preparation. To win the competition, participants need to make the most delicious pesto using only traditional methods and ingredients. Basil for the competition is grown in the Ligurian region of Pra. It is believed that only from it you can make an authentic sauce, because the Genoese basil has no mint flavor and has a special delicate aroma.
Cooking classic pesto at home
Today, the national Ligurian sauce with garlic can be prepared by anyone, because the ingredients for it are sold in almost any grocery store.
You will need:
- young leaves of green basil - 70 g;
- olive oil direct (cold) extraction - 80 g;
- hard cheese "Parmigiano Reggiano" or "Grana Padano" (analogue of parmesan) - 60 g;
- grated pecorino sheep milk cheese, for example "Fiore Sardo" - 40 g;
- garlic cloves - 2 pieces;
- lightly roasted pine nuts (pine tree seeds used in Italy) - 30 g.
A correctly measured amount of the last ingredient will add the original flavor to the sauce, but the pesto oversaturated with nuts is not welcomed by the cooks.
Prepare basil: rinse it and place on paper towels. While the leaves are dry, mash the garlic and nuts. Add sea salt, basil to the mixture and begin to pound the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle in a circular motion. When the contents of the bowl acquire a uniform creamy consistency, add pre-grated "Parmigiano Reggiano" and "Fiord Sarda". Pound the mixture again with a pestle. Add olive oil gradually: in a thick sauce for sandwiches, you need a little bit, but for pesto pizza you need a thinner consistency.
To prepare the sauce according to all culinary canons, use products of the same room temperature. If pesto turned out more than necessary, then put it in a jar, add olive oil, close the lid and put it in the fridge. In this form, refueling will be able to stand for another 2-3 days.
Pesto, like any popular dish, has several interpretations. On the island of Sicily, almonds and tomatoes are added to the sauce, so it turns out to be a non-standard red color. In the French region of Provence, it is made without pine nuts. And in some countries even basil is replaced: in Austria, sauce is prepared with pumpkin seeds, and in Germany - with wild garlic. Some cooks add to pesto, not pine nuts, but their cheaper counterparts.