Classic pesto is an Italian savory sauce made with a mixture of naturally gluten-free fresh herbs, olive oil, nuts, garlic, and pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It's never cooked and is most often served over fresh pasta.
According to our Italian Food Guide, "Ideally pesto made with Ligurian basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil, and — if you want to be traditional — either pecorino sardo or bra, a Piemontese cow's milk cheese, or -- if you want to be more modern -- Parmigiano... Reggiano, which is more expensive than the traditional cheeses (Genovesi are known for their thriftiness)."
Traditionally, pesto ingredients are crushed with a mortar and pestle, but you can use a food processor to grind pesto into a comparable consistency.
Over time many variations of classic pesto sauce have evolved. Sometimes a herb like cilantro is used instead of basil, and walnuts are used instead of pine nuts and cheeses other than Pecorino or Parmesan.
Summer is the best season of all to experiment with a variety of pesto recipes. Fresh basil is easy to find (or grow) at home in a pot.
Serve fresh pesto over your favorite gluten-free pasta, use it as a terrific appetizer dip, serve over grilled poultry or fish or use it as pizza sauce. Pesto is very versatile!
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Here's a twist on classic pesto from our Home Cooking Guide. Sunflower seeds add crunch and flavor.
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"Garlicky and cheesy, this pesto recipe is every bit as tasty as traditional basil pesto, but the kale makes it healthier," Katie Workman, Cooking for Kids Guide.
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This vegan pesto recipe from our Dairy Free Cooking Guide is made without cheese -— a good alternative for those you have to avoid both gluten and casein.