is an Italian sauce
that originates in the Liguria region of Northern Italy,
specifically in the city of Genoa (pesto alla genovese),
although at least one other well-known variant exists: pesto
alla siciliana, a sauce from Sicily that replaces the basil
of Genovese pesto with tomato.
Pesto has been known, in various forms, since Roman times,
and probably was imported from North Africa. Pesto,
usually sold in small jars, is commonly available in
stores in green (original) or red (with sun-dried tomatoes
or red bell peppers) varieties, produced by major
manufacturers or under a 'generic' brand.
genovese is an european protected designation of
origin (PDO) food, that means that, to be allowed to use
this name, producers have to use the traditional
pine nuts, extra virgin olive
oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cow cheese and (optionally)
pecorino sardo sheep cheese.
lower quality pesto, cashew nuts or walnuts
are often used instead of pine nuts, as they are cheaper
and have a similar texture. In addition, the Parmigiano is
often replaced by cheaper varieties of cheese, such as
Grana Padano or Parmesan
cheese and cheaper oils are used.
It is commonly
used on pasta, soups, crackers, and bread,
though its use is not restricted to these as the sauce is
different version of the sauce exists in Provence, where
it is known as Pistou. In contrast with the Italian pesto,
pistou is generally made with olive oil, basil and garlic
only: while cheese may be added, usually no nuts are
included. Pistou is used in the typical soupe au pistou,
a hearty vegetable soup with pistou flavor. The sauce did
not originally contain basil, however. Instead, cheese and
olive oil were the main constituents.
ingredient variations include: arugula (instead of or in
addition to basil), black olives, lemon
A German variety uses ramsons leaves instead of basil. In
the 19th century, Genovese immigrants to Argentina brought
pesto recipes with them. A Peruvian variety, known as
"Tallarin Verde" (literally "Green
Noodles", from Italian tagliarini) is slightly
creamier, uses spinach leaves and is served with potatoes
and sirloin steak.
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