When dr bob was growing up in the bleek foodscape of the 1950s in a poor family with typical American kitchen production, he had never heard of pesto. Among so many other great food ingredients. Even his serednipitous impact with Italy at age 27 did not teach him the fine points of pesto that quickly entered his food radar. It was only some years later that an American expat in Rome clued him into the traditional way of serving pesto pasta, with cut green beans and little cubes of potato. Then the cooking team (Ani having joined up) did a sundried tomato pasta workshop with long time friend Piero who showed us how his grandmother did it. Our first experience with nontraditional pesto.
Traditional pesto (pesto Genovese) comes from the region of Italy around Genoa (Liguria), and is a mix of lots of fresh basil with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmigiano which is crushed together with mortor and pestle (note the same root "pest") by perfectionists, but in an electric blender by most of us. But other plant-based ingredients can replace these various typical ingredients. The "nuts" can be switched out first, but then the greens too, and finally nongreen food items. Like sun-dried tomatoes. Or in Sicily, a tomato ricotta base (alla Trapanese) or the pistacchio pesto with their famous pistacchio pesto (pistacchi di Bronte). A few of these are now commercially available here in the USA. More recently we discovered wild fennel pesto sauce (finocchio selvatico) which is a very delicate flavor for our now sophisticated palates (tongue in cheek).
In 2020 a search of our recipe collection for the string "pesto" got 17 hits! We had forgotten how versatile pesto is, even just the traditional version. Two of our most beloved pastas are zucchini pesto pasta and Romanesco cauliflower pasta (where it quickly became an essential optional ingredient). Here is a listing of all of these food stories, some more lasting than others, but representative of what a bit of imagination can do with such a simple food item.
|piero's sundried tomato pesto pasta||
|tj maxx pesto pasta with asparagus||
|store sample sausage pesto penne||
|fennel pesto penne||
|whole wheat gnocchi with pesto and asparagus/green beans||
|olive leaf pasta with
zucchini and pesto
bonus recipe: fettuccine with zucchini and fiori di zucca
|tomato almond pesto (siciliano, trapanese)||
|ferragosto farro pesto and crab salad||
|rigatoni with broccoli romanesco||
|avocado pesto pasta||14-04|
|pesto al finocchietto selvatico pasta||17-11|
|farro with pesto, artichokes and tomatoes||19-01|
|pesto pasta with zucchini flowers and Romanesco cauliflower||19-07|
|Rachel Ray's Think Spring pea pesto pasta||19-09|