Pesto is a sauce that contains crushed basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. No, not quite because one unique quality of pesto is that it can take myriad forms.
Versatility Is a Virtue
Do any two pesto sauces taste exactly alike? No. Some may be comparable 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! [Teacher points to Student.] Okay. So it is 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 far too expensive so instead of pine nuts, I will use sunflower seeds. And some folks like it dry, but I like it creamy. With coconut flakes. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Teacher: Exactly, young padawan. But tell me this, when do we use pesto?
Student: Oh, I understand! Oh, call on me!
Uses 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 which included bat exclusion 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 escalated. People put it on sandwiches. Yup–that’s ideal. People make pesto based soups. People put it on pizza. People today drizzle everything over eggs. People bake it into bread. And, the author’s personal favorite, some individuals have ingeniously mixed pesto into mayonnaise, thus forming a hybrid type invention, a smooth and tangy beast. Some folks may call it basil aioli, but do not 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 the fact that it’s impossible to pigeonhole”pesto” into a single form or use. Rather, to understand the true, fluid basis of pesto, we must see it as something similar to a cloud that’s constantly, yet ever so slightly, changing shape.
Rather than examining the question”What’s Pesto?” In a traditional, canned way, we should attempt to comprehend the word”pesto” as a broad label for a sauce that can take on many forms and uses. We feel like maintaining an open mind concerning the question”What is pesto?” Allows room for creativity and growth so that we pesto fans can continue to break through culinary obstacles and challenge however delight our taste buds.