You will likely recognize pesto by its distinctive bright green color from basil, its main ingredient. It is especially great in the summer when basil comes fresh off the garden.
It orignated in Genoa, in Italy’s northern region and has been served in Italian homes since the 16th century. “Pesto” originates from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or to crush, traditonally using a mortar and pestle to grind basil leaves with the other ingredients. Today we use food processors for convenience, but the full release of the aroma basil leaf can only be achieved with the traditional method.
This is the original recipe from Genoa. There are other variations that are red in color reflecting from ingredients such as sun dried tomatoes or red bell peppers. While one of the most popular uses for Pesto is as a pasta sauce, it can also be used as a spread or dip, salad dressing, or as an accompaniment to steak, poultry or fish.