Pesto is said to have originated in Genoa, the capital of the Liguria Region of Italy where it is called Pesto alla Genovese.
Just across the border in Provence there is a similar sauce called pistou.
Along with garden fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil is one of the delights of spring and summer, and pesto is a great way to enjoy basil. All you need is a fresh young wine to accompany it.
Here is a simple pesto recipe that you will use over and over again.
- 1 cup of fresh basil leaves (you can use some parsely as well, but the basil should predominate)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- A half cup of good olive oil
- 30g pine nuts
- 60g parmesan cheese
Blend or process the basil leaves, garlic, oil and pine nuts until smooth. Use a pestle and mortar if you have time and patience. Stir through the freshly grated cheese. If you wish you can store for a week or two covered with olive oil in a glass jar and refrigerated.
- Toss a couple of tablespoons through some freshly cooked pasta or gnocchi.
- A generous dollop of pesto can make a lovely garnish for some grilled fish.
- Try this recipe for Mushrooms Stuffed with Pesto and Goats Cheese.
- To make a crunchy dip, roughly chop an extra 60g pine nuts and mix the pesto through.
- Valentia Harris, in her Valentina's Italian Family Feast cookbook, suggests a tomato salad with pesto and pine nuts. The pesto is mixed with olive oil and cracked peppercorns to make a dressing for some sliced tomatoes. Some pine nuts and a few basil leaves are tossed through the salad.
In my eBook 10 dishes for Sangiovese I have a recipe for Minestra al Pesto. You can download a free copy of the book from 10 dishes for sangiovese
A good Pinot grigio will complement most dishes with pesto. If you want to pair pesto with red wine, a light bodied Barbera could be suitable.
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