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Basil Pesto- A Traditional Italian Sauce With Unconventional Uses

Sasi Kamineni

Basil pesto is a traditional Italian pasta sauce which is versatile, easy to make with lots of modern variations. It is believed to have originated in the northern region of Italy in the 16th century. The aptly named sauce comes from the word pesta, which means "to pound or crush".

Traditionally pesto was made by blending crushed garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts and parmesan cheese and then emulsifying the mixture with extra virgin olive oil. Nowadays almonds and cashews are often used instead of pine nuts as a more cost effective options that delivers the same buttery rich flavors. 

There are many variations of pesto these days so to differentiate between variation and traditional, the classic pesto is referred to as pesto genovese. Common substitutions for the basil leaves are sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and spinach. You can substitute most anything!

Pesto is great on its own tossed with pasta, coating the pasta in a rich, buttery sauce. It is also delicious when mixed with heavy cream to create a more subtle but heavier sauce for your pasta. It is a great topper for a pizza, as a salad dressing or even as an ingredient to make a chip or vegetable dip. The possibilities are endless with pesto!

Tags: basil, buccacinos, foody, fresh herbs, italian cuisine, italian sauces, pasta sauces, pesto, sauces

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