Friday, August 22, 2014

Pesto for champions

Many of us have a lot of basil on hand, so now might be the time to make pesto from scratch or reconsider how you make it.

First of all, the recipe should properly be called pesto all genovese, as it comes from the Genoa area and there are other kinds of pesto. While the recipe is forgiving, like most Italian cuisine, and there are many versions, there are some indications. Due to its simplicity, the quality of ingredients should be good and they should all be fresh. This means freshly peeled garlic, good olive oil, real parmigiano-reggiano and preferably Italian pine-nuts, which are more difficult to find than Chinese pine-nuts. The basil should be Genoa basil (there are wide differences in basils). Don't use the basil stems and remove the anima (green core) of the garlic. Another suggestion: try making it with the old-fashioned mortar and pestle (the word "pestle" is related to the word pesto).

You can find the recipe for an authentic pesto here, straight from the yearly Pesto Championship. Click on the little flag to translate the Italian. Personally, I have never heard of the inclusion of pecorino sardo in pesto alla genovese, and I wouldn't put any pecorino in my pesto. Pasta formats: either short or long pasta (I always use long); trofie and trenette are a classic. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on a wine pairing, with some suggesting (improbably) reds. I would go with a fairly dry white or rose'.