Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Recently I made Pesto

My basil's been doing really well. To help use it up, I found this recipe for pesto . Since I already had roasted almonds I substituted those for the pine nuts (too expensive) or walnuts (I'm allergic). It was tasty. I only had enough basil to make half the recipe, but it made enough pesto to flavor a large pasta chicken salad.


It can also be used as a topping on meat, fish, poultry, boiled potatoes, toasted baguette or similar bread; or mixed in soup or other sauces--basically, any way you like!


Over the several days that I had to eat my pesto pasta chicken salad [Next time I’ll make less pasta :-)] I found myself wondering, is pesto real food? Some people love it and say they could live on the stuff; gourmet shops sell it in cute little jars; and purists argue about the “proper” way to make it. But is it nutritious? And who first thought of it ? Was it first created by a poor Italian peasant who had nothing else to make a sauce with?

So I did a little research.

The history of pesto is uncertain. It’s believed to have originated in the city of Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesto

I didn’t find much about the nutritional value of basil pesto. “The French are said to use basil to treat constipation” http://possumsal.homestead.com/constipation.html
So depending on your perspective that could be one benefit! The cheese and almonds I used would have had a bit of calcium and protein; I don’t know about pine nuts. Olive oil is considered healthful, as oils go.

But basil pesto is not the only type of pesto. I found recipes for pesto made with mushrooms, spinach or sun dried tomatoes:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_27249,00.html
and even one for broccoli pesto:
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/broccoli-pesto-fusilli-pasta-recipe.html

You can make pesto with anything that suits your fancy.

So depending on what you make it with I’d say the answer is, yes, it’s real food.

For more on the history of pesto: http://parco-basilico.provincia.genova.it/eng/Pesto_PBP.html
And uses of basil: http://www.gardenguides.com/howto/tipstechniques/herbs/indespensiblebasil.asp

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