What is Pesto?
Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city in Liguria, Italy and is traditionally made up of crushed garlic, basil leaves, salt, and hard cheeses such as Parmiggiano Reggiano and/or Pecorino. The word pesto is the past participle of the Genoese verb pestia, which means “to pound,” as traditionally pesto was made by way pounding in a mortar and pestle. You will surely enjoy this pesto sauce recipe.
Pesto is said to have stemmed from two instances going back to ancient Roman times. The first instance stems from a concoction of a paste called moretum which consisted of crushed garlic, salt, cheese, herbs, olive oil, and vinegar. During the middle ages, a cuisine called agliata became popular in Genoa and consisted of mashed garlic and walnuts, as garlic was especially a nutrition stable for Ligurian seafarers. It is said that it is not until 1946, did a pesto recipe get published in North America (by Sunset Magazine), and not until the 1980’s and 1990’s did pesto become popular in America.
Processor vs. Mortar and Pestle
I have explored both food processor and mortar and pestle methods and like the food processor method better for the pesto sauce recipe because the ingredients are more consistently chopped, and pesto is not as “mushy.”
What Are The Health Benefits of Pesto?
Nutrition (list below): Pesto is an absolute nutrient-dense food. Made of raw basil leaves and garlic, both contain beneficial phytochemicals to boost the immune system and overall health. In this recipe, cilantro is added to give an even greater boost. If not cooked to death, pesto is actually a raw and living food containing natural phytonutrients, minerals, and plant enzymes that remain unchanged and therefore available to nourish the body.
The Color: Pesto should be bright green, and not dull and brownish in color. The dulling of color means that some of the nutrients is oxidized, and a bit of its nutritional benefit is lost. Although not always possible, it is best to consume the pesto sauce recipe right after it’s made because the mastication process opens the cellular matrix of the plants and once oxygen gets to it, the pesto begins the oxidation process. Some people have squeezed some lemon into the mixture to slow down the process, and this does help.
Main Detoxifiers in this Pesto
Basil is an herb in the mint family, is one of the primary ingredients in pesto and has the following benefits:
- Contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin K
- Is most known for its aromatherapeutic effects and can help
- elevate mood and helps fight depression
- clarifies and energizes the mind
- reduces anxiety
- fights fatigue
- relieve indigestion
- assist with symptoms of bronchitis and colds
- Fights inflammation
- Contains powerful antioxidants
- May help to prevent some cancers
- May assist with high blood sugar
Culinary basil is not to be confused with Holy Basil – an herb primarily known for its medicinal properties and can be found in supplement form in health food stores.
- Natural chelator to rid the body of heavy metals
- Contains terpinene, quercetin, and tocopherols which may assist in fighting cancer and have a neuroprotective effect
- Boosts the immune system
- Assists in heart hearth
- May lower LDL cholesterol
Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is related to the onion, leek, and shallot family.
- Very powerful anti-viral
- Significant antibiotic
- Major contributor to the blood system for regulating conditions such as
- high cholesterol
- coronary heart disease
- Used by some to prevent a plethora of cancers (lung, prostate, breast, colon, etc.)
What Type Of Basil To Use?
Although there are many varieties of basil for pesto, Italian large leaf or Genovese (Sweet basil) varieties are what is commonly used for pesto. You will find bunches and clear boxes of basil in the store, and it will usually be one of these two varieties.
What Kind Of Diets Can Eat This Pesto Sauce?
- Low-Carb (you can use zucchini noodles or konjac pasta if you are low carb)
- Low Calorie – if you are looking to limit calories, you can skip the oil. I do this all the time, and it is still uber delicious. Sometimes I eat it by the spoonfuls, like peanut butter.
How Long Have You Been Making This?
Been making pesto sauce recipe over 10 Years.
Ways to Enjoy Pesto
My favorite is with zucchini noodles, sun-dried tomatoes, and a sprinkle of your favorite nuts or seeds. It’s thee best! Otherwise:
- Pesto pizza
- In burgers
- Over pasta
- Spread for sandwiches and wraps
- Mix it into Dips
- Make it a Salad Dressing
- Toss with Veggies or Tofu
- Make a Pesto Oil to serve with bread
- Serve over meats
- Garnish Soups
Notes For This Pesto Sauce Recipe
- The Cheese: Use a high-quality Parmiggiano Reggiano. It won’t really taste the same if a lower quality parmesan is used for example. It will still be very good. However, I have used parmesans with hardly any taste at all, and have felt that it didn’t really maximize the pesto potential.
Items Used For This Recipe