Pesto is a sauce typically made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. It originated in Genoa but has become popular worldwide as it’s delicious and is a versatile ingredient. You can use Pesto in many ways; on pasta or as a dip for breadsticks. It’s also delicious with grilled chicken and potatoes! This blog post will explore what Pesto tastes like, where it comes from, how you make it yourself, and some delicious recipes.
So, what does Pesto taste like?
People describe the flavor as being both bitter and sweet simultaneously with an intensely fragrant herbaceous smell. The flavor varies based on the herbs and ingredients, but it generally has an earthy, herby taste.
Pestos vary depending on which ingredients you use. For example, pine nuts make the flavor more bitter, whereas walnuts add sweetness, therefore, giving you two very different pesto variations. – Basil leaves have a unique sweet yet slightly peppery aftertaste, so they’re often compared to oregano with hints of clove and mint mixed in.
You can make Pesto using various herbs, including basil combined with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.
What is Pesto?
Pesto is a sauce typically made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. It originated in Genoa and was brought to the US by Italian immigrants.
You can make it in various ways, but the classic pesto recipe includes basil leaves that you chop into a paste with garlic and pine nuts. These ingredients are then emulsified in olive oil to create an intensely flavored sauce.
Pesto can be used on pasta or as a dip for breadsticks. It’s also delicious with grilled chicken and potatoes!
What’s the difference between red and green Pesto?
Green Pesto is made using basil, garlic, and pine nuts. It has a more robust flavor than red Pesto, which you make with tomatoes. So it’s sweeter than green Pesto, which can taste slightly bitter.
Red Pesto can be made using a combination of ingredients, including sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, and fresh basil. It has a lovely sweet taste.
What type of ingredients goes into making Pesto?
Generally, you use four main components to make up a standard pesto: Basil leaves – these have a unique sweet yet slightly peppery aftertaste. Pine Nuts – These add bitterness to the Pesto. Garlic is used to flavor the dish, and Parmesan Cheese adds saltiness, creaminess, and umami.
How to make Pesto:
To make Pesto: combine chopped fresh basil leaves with garlic and pine nuts; emulsify using good quality extra virgin olive oil until it forms an intensely flavored paste; season to your taste- add salt and pepper or some freshly grated parmesan for added flavor!
Store leftover pesto in glass jars (with airtight lids) filled with enough of the remaining brine so that there is at least one inch of liquid on top of the Pesto before placing the cap. You can store the Pesto in the fridge for up to a week, but it’s best when used fresh!
– Fresh basil leaves, washed and dried well (about a cup)
– Garlic cloves, peeled (as many as you like!)
– Pine nuts (or walnuts if you prefer). Around three tablespoons per person are good, but the more, the better!
– Good quality extra virgin olive oil such as cold-pressed Italian olive oil or California-grown olives. A dark green pesto works best!
You need around one to two cups of brine for each batch so adjust accordingly depending on how much Pesto you make. If using fresh herbs, you will also need at least half an hour before serving to allow flavors to infuse together.
– Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until it forms an even paste.
– If you want your Pesto chunky, chop the basil leaves by hand into small pieces before adding them to the mix!
– Store leftover pesto in glass jars (with airtight lids) filled with enough of the remaining brine so that there is at least one inch of liquid on top of the Pesto before placing the lid.
For those of you who prefer seeing how it’s done, we’ve found this really helpful video:
Pesto Pasta Chicken Recipe
This rich and creamy pasta dish is the perfect way to use up leftover Pesto!
– Pasta (around half a cup per person)
– Pesto (one teaspoon of Pesto for every two people as well as extra leftovers in case you want more!)
– Shrimp or chicken, cooked and cut into small cubes (two tablespoons per person is good but adjust accordingly depending on how much meat you are using)
– Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large(as many as you like!)
– Half an onion thinly sliced. Caramelising it first will give your sauce another layer of flavor! I used green onions for this recipe, but feel free to use any onion you prefer.
– Fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped (optional)
For extra flavor, add in two tablespoons of white wine! You can also substitute the shrimp for chicken if preferred.
– Cook pasta until al dente before straining and placing back into the pot to keep warm while finishing off the sauce. When using spaghetti or linguine, cook around seven minutes only as they are thicker than penne pasta which may take longer depending on the size chosen.
– While your pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium/high heat in a large frying pan with tall sides so that it doesn’t spill everywhere when adding ingredients later. Add onions once heated, stirring occasionally until lightly browned
Some more effortless recipes that use Pesto:
– Pesto Pasta: Add some leftover pesto to a pot of hot water with spaghetti noodles and cook as per packet instructions. Next, drain the excess fluid away from your noodles before returning to the cooking pot over low heat for around five minutes. Stir occasionally, adding in extra virgin olive oil if you prefer!
– Antipasti Platter: Serve on top bruschetta slices alongside other cold meats such as salami, prosciutto ham, etc. Use your imagination when creating platters – there are no rules, only what tastes good!
– Spaghetti with Shrimp and Basil Pesto: Add shrimp and Pesto to hot spaghetti pasta before serving.
– Pesto Roasted Chicken: Coat chicken in basil pesto, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese, then bake until fully cooked! Serve alongside salad leaves or roasted vegetables for an easy meal that’s full of flavor.
Pesto’s history and health benefits
The history of Pesto dates back to ancient Rome, where they would prepare a paste called “pasta al Pettine” which translates into ‘paste from the comb.’ This dish consisted of finely chopped herbs, olive oil, and salt, ground together with a mortar and pestle.
– Pesto is high in antioxidants with numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of various types of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses! It’s also rich in essential vitamins such as K, A & C, which are vital for your immune system to function correctly.
– Basil contains over twice the amount of vitamin c found in oranges, so it has anti-inflammatory properties too! The best way to get the maximum benefit from this herb is by making fresh Pesto at home using quality ingredients. Rather than buying store-bought versions where you can’t be sure how long they’ve been sitting around or what kind of oil you used during preparation.
How to store and freeze your homemade Pesto
– Freezing pesto is the best way to store it as this will prevent any bacteria from growing and ruining your sauce! If possible, freeze your Pesto after you make it fresh.
– The best way to freeze Pesto is by placing the jar you will be using to store it in a bowl of ice before adding your homemade Pesto and sealing tightly.
– Place this dish into the freezer for around 30 minutes or until solid, then remove it from the freezer, taking care not to hold it as its contents are very fragile!
– You can also choose to freeze your Pesto in an airtight container such as Tupperware so that you don’t need to keep transferring batches if making more than one batch at once. Place some cling film over the top before closing the lid!
– If freezing leftover Pesto with oil, put aside half of what you used when mixing, thawing out overnight again, then adding into pesto mixture before serving.
– To thaw, place Pesto in the fridge overnight, and it will be ready to use by morning!
How long can I keep my Pesto?
It would be best if you tried not to let homemade Pesto sit around longer than five days. This is because it is more likely that bacteria will grow, resulting in food poisoning. If aging too long, this also makes the oil separate and turn rancid.
Pesto is a delicious and versatile sauce that you can use in many ways! It’s also packed full of essential vitamins making it an excellent addition to any dinner.
So what does Pesto taste like? In short, fabulous! Depending on the recipe you use, Pesto has a strong herbaceous flavor with hints of garlic and pine nuts or cashews.
Pesto mixed with pasta is my kids’ favorite food, and it’s so easy to make. I highly recommend you give it a try.