Citizens, whilst it is very true that I am a Pesto zealot of the Genovese-style, I will also share a secret with you, only whispered amongst those “in-the-know” purists who defend the honor of the recipe with all the fervor it deserves.
Of these, I count none greater than the legendary Pesto Maestro Luciano Zeffirino!
The word “pesto” is from the Italian word “pesto”, a contraction of pestato, form of pestare (“to pound in a mortar”). The secret is that there is more than one style of Pesto, despite the justified orthodoxy of the Genovese pesto style!
For example, basil is not the only herb that can be used in Pesto – in the Winter, when Basil is very hard to come by, Pesto is traditionally made with Parsley! I’ve upped the flavor quotient by adding in a number of traditional Sardinian flavor variants, including the unmatched Pecorino cheese of the island, walnuts in place of pine nuts and the addition of anchovy, vinegar, capers, oregano and hot pepper to really amp up the flavor quotient.
This is still Pesto, Citizens – just a variant more than halfway to Salsa Verde – that I hope will become a staple in your Winter kitchen! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
½ cup minced fresh basil
1 ½ cups minced flat leaf parsley
4 Ortiz-brand anchovies in oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp capers
1 tbsp. packed fresh oregano leaves
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
¼ cup walnut halves
⅓ cup or so Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Add the walnuts to a mortar and pestle – crush them finely.
Add the garlic, anchovies and capers to the mortar and pound until the mixture is fairly homogeneous.
Add the basil and continue to pound, then add the Parmesan cheese.
The “beating” is not only the action of mixing the ingredients, but an amalgamation movement also carried out by working the mixture with the pestle in a circular motion.
Add the parsley, chili flakes and oregano to the mixture, amalgamating it with the other ingredients. At this point, add the vinegar and as much oil as needed to make the mixture smooth and mix together with a wooden spoon.
Serve over fresh tagliatelle or linguine made from good-quality semolina. This stands up well to red wines with a high alcohol content as an accompaniment.
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