Pesto, or pesto alla Genovese to give the dish its full title, originates from Genova in the north of Italy. The first recipes for pesto were documented in the 1800s, although similar sauces involving pine nuts and cheese can be traced back to Roman times. The Italian word pestare means to ‘crush’ or ‘pound’ and it was this word that gave us the English pestle.
The ingredients in pesto can be varied according to the season or even just personal preference. Try using other herbs such as coriander or mint; wild garlic also makes a great pesto during it’s short season in the spring.
Fabrizio Marino makes a celery pesto in his intriguing Travel notes serving it with a cheese cream, while Mauro Uliassi makes a nori seaweed-style pesto to serve with his inventive Tagliatelle of cuttlefish and fried quinoa.