Friday, June 12, 2009

1001 no cook Pesto recipes

Pesto (from latin: pounded) originated in Genoa. Made by pounding basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil, it became very popular and now boasts of innumerable variations. Basil originated in India, but is considered holy and is almost never used as a flavouring agent. Italian cuisine embraced it and uses it extensively in Pestos and Pizzas. Another Indian import, heavily used in Italian cuisine is water buffalo milk, used to make mozzarella) Tender, fresh Genoan basil is the soul of Pesto.
Pesto belongs to the same pounded sauce family as the Indian chutney and Mexican salsa. Like them, pesto should never be blended for long or blended to a smooth paste. It should be chunky and have a texture. When blending, do it in short bursts, for as short a time as possible. Ideally, pounding with a pestle and mortar  or chopping all ingredients very finely results in a great, traditional pesto. Remember that Virgin Olive oil turns bitter on mechanical agitation. So mix it in gently after pesto is blended. Pesto keeps well and can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for months. Adding a layer of oil over pesto and omitting cheese helps it keep much longer.

Various variations of Pesto exist. Pesto alla siciliana (from Sicily) is a variation using tomato and less basil. Pesto alla calabrese (from Calabria) uses grilled bell peppers. Pistou ( from Provence, France), omits nuts from the pesto recipe. A variety of cooked pesto can be prepared by blanching the greens used. But some, like Basil become bitter on cooking. This is why when pesto is added to soups, it is added at the very end.
Pesto can be used with pasta / meat as a sauce, with bread as a spread, in soups, as a dip, or as salad dressing. Feel free to adjust the quantity of ingredients to your taste – as long as you adhere to the spirit of the recipe.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ramki,

I am unable to get a A4 size page when I click. Do you have a clue how I could solve this.


Ramki said...

Mail me (siramki at and I'll mail you the page.

However, it works just fine for me. Try using another browser.

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Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !

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