WHAT IS PESTO?
- Summer in A Sauce
Raw pine nuts, basil, and olive oil are the foundation of a traditional Italian pesto. Being a raw dish, the spiciness of the extra virgin olive oil has a huge impact on its’ flavor. And nothing says summer like the aroma of fresh basil! This recipe is a great way to use this bountiful herb. Made from a few simple ingredients pesto is wonderful on pasta, spread on a sandwich or drizzled over fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Pine nuts are what’s traditionally used in pesto but if you don’t like them substitute walnuts or almonds instead. (Can’t decide which? See who comes out the winner in our Food Fight! Almonds Vs. Walnuts.
SUGGESTIONS WHEN MAKING PESTO
- Can Pesto be Creamy?
Pesto is excellent on it’s own but for hot dishes like pasta, a bit of extra creaminess takes this sauce to the next level. To get there, just add 1/2 cup heavy cream to 1/2 cup pesto in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring well until combined. Be careful not to heat this recipe too long or you’ll start to cook out some of its’ flavor.
WHAT PAIRS WELL WITH PESTO?
Use on the pasta or chicken dish of your choice. Creamy pesto is an excellent sauce for pan-seared chicken breasts or over some piping hot swordfish. Or are you in more of a semolina mood? Look for a pasta with nice ridges and wells to capture the delicious goodness–like penne rigate or lumache. Traditional pesto works well with string pastas too–like linguine. In terms of tasty beverages like wine, you are basically pairing to an oil flavored with cheese, garlic and basil. So don’t be afraid to try a red Chilean Carmenere or Italian Nebbiolo with your dish. Avoid mixing other potent cheeses or spices in your side dish to this entree, otherwise the beauty of this nutty dressing will be lost in your mouth. (written by Chef Stef)