Pesto is a sauce that contains crushed basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. Simple, right? No, not quite because one unique quality of pesto is that it can take myriad forms.
Do any two pesto sauces taste exactly alike? No. Some may be similar to one another, but no two are identical. The recipe is really simple though. Remember?
Teacher: Can anyone tell me what pesto is?
Student: Oh, I understand! Okay. So it’s a sauce that contains crushed 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 far too pricey so instead of pine nuts, I’m going to use sunflower seeds. And some folks like it dry, but I like it creamy. And with coconut flakes. Auntie Mabel sprinkles coconut flakes into hers. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Teacher: Exactly, young padawan. You see, pesto recipes are notoriously varied. But tell me , when can we use pesto?
Student: Oh, I understand!
Programs of Pesto
The first known usage 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 that included pesto made from basil. In his recipe, pesto was used as a pasta sauce. Today, it’s still primarily used as a pasta sauce. With time, however, the uses of pesto have escalated. 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 today bake it into bread. And, the writer’s personal favorite, some people have ingeniously mixed pesto into mayonnaise, thus forming a hybrid type 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 original query. Is pesto simply a sauce? Is pesto nothing more than smashed up basil, garlic, cheese and pine nuts shimmering in olive oil? The author’s response to this philosophical conundrum is that it’s impossible to pigeonhole”pesto” into one form or usage. Instead, to understand the true, fluid essence of pesto, we have to see it as something akin to a cloud that is always, yet ever so slightly, changing shape.
As opposed to examining the question”What is Pesto?” In a conventional, canned manner, 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’s pesto?” Allows room for growth and creativity so that we pesto fans can continue to break through culinary obstacles and challenge however delight our taste buds.