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Best Pesto Recipes

Pesto is a delicious accompaniment to many dishes. Explore the best pesto recipes HelloFresh has to offer.

A Little Pesto Goes a Long Way

What is Pesto Made Of? And Where Did it Originate?

Originating in Genoa, pesto is a versatile Italian sauce made from fresh basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

The name 'pesto' is the past participle of the Italian verb 'pestare'. This means 'to crush' or 'to pound', which refers to the preparation method for the sauce. Officially, the word is generic for anything that's produced by pounding. In Italy, it relates to several types of pesto, but the Genovese version is the most popular, which is the traditional green paste commonly used in cooking.

Including basil as the main ingredient in pesto is only a fairly recent occurrence. Although the sauce is thought to date back to Roman times, the inclusion of basil was first documented during the middle of the 19th century when Giovanni Battista Ratto, a gastronomist, published "La Cuciniera Genovese", a book about Italian recipes and cooking.

Tips for Pairing Pesto in Recipes

Pesto goes well with many foods, some of which may surprise you. For example, stir a teaspoon into a bowl of tomato soup for added colour and richness. Other foods that pesto will complement and enhance include:

  • Chicken – cut in half and spread in the middle before baking
  • Fish – combine with butter as a sauce when grilling white fish
  • Pasta – stir through your favourite pasta dishes
  • Bread – spread as a sandwich topping with tomato
  • Pizza – drizzle over the top with mozzarella
  • Lamb – cover the outside in pesto and bake for a delicious crust

How to Make Pesto

The best advice for how to make pesto is to use a blender or food processor when making it fresh as opposed to a pestle and mortar, which is much harder work. Blend together fresh basil leaves, pine nuts and peeled garlic cloves together with Parmesan cheese shavings and olive oil.

How to Make a Creamy Pesto Sauce

Because the sauce is so flavoursome, use pesto sparingly so the overall effect isn't too overpowering. Try adding some Greek yoghurt to your pesto recipes for a creamier and milder taste.

How to Make Pesto without Pine Nuts?

A handy tip is that you don't have to stick to the main ingredients – experiment with walnuts and coriander or mint along with Romano cheese as substitutes for the standard ingredients. Anyone with a dairy intolerance can leave out the cheese completely.

Pesto Recipes FAQs

How to store pesto

When freshly made with no preservatives, pesto sauce should be kept in a sealed, airtight container such as a jar. It can then be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, pesto can be frozen. To do so, the ideal method is to scoop servings into an ice cube tray – this makes smaller portions to handle when defrosting. As an alternative, use plastic freezer bags to store manageable quantities of sauce in the freezer. When frozen, it will keep for around 6 months. To freeze it for longer, use a small jar or plastic container – this will keep for up to 12 months.

Is pesto healthy?

Pesto can be eaten in addition to a balanced diet due to its use of ingredients like fresh herbs, nuts and olive oil, providing beneficial nutrients. However, its calorie and fat content should be consumed in moderation.

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