Tuesday, 13 September 2011


After recently making a passing remark at a party about my contempt for pesto, I was faced with astonishment and bewilderment. The backlash I encountered, forced me to question my views on the popular condiment and I was offered a written testament by Josh Shortt, in order to persuade myself and fellow unenlightened friends, to let pesto into our lives for good. An impassioned plea I think you'll agree.

Josh Shortt

It recently came to my attention that there are people amongst us who are ready and willing to speak ill of the deliciously versatile treat that is pesto. As a pesto enthusiast I found this upsetting and was plunged into somewhat of an emotional turmoil. However, after a few hard hours of mulling this over in a dark room, I decided that instead of shunning these people from my day to day life, as a lesser man would have done, it was my obligation to educate them in the ways of pesto appreciation. It is my opinion that this negative feeling around pesto essentially stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding, creating a culture of mistrust and unease. In the interest of education here is a concise history and some nutritional information to help answer any questions people may have regarding pesto, its origin and how it can improve your life today.

Pesto is a sauce of Italian origin, specifically the northern region of Liguria. Pesto traditionally consists of basil, pine nuts, a blend of Italian hard cheeses and olive oil. The name pesto comes from the Genoese word pestâ which translates as pound or crush, this name comes from the original preparation process which involved the use of a mortar and pestle. There are many different variations of pesto; however the most popular versions are the original green pesto, red pesto with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and red peppers and a French version known as pistou. While it is true that pesto is high in fat it should not be dismissed as unhealthy. It should be noted that the fat content in pesto is largely unsaturated fat, the healthier option when consuming high fat products. Pesto contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, the garlic and basil leaves in pesto contain vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is important for skin and eye health and vitamin C is important for supporting the immune system and generating collagen for skin repair. Pesto also contains Phosphorus and Potassium which is important for teeth and bone composition and heart beat regulation respectively.

As previously mentioned, pesto is considered to be a very versatile and dexterous condiment, lending its unique flavour to a vast variety of dishes. It is not just its range but the incredible ease at which it can be deployed that really makes pesto a firm staple. You can make a gourmet meal out of pasta, an onion, parmesan and a few spoonfuls of our green companion in a matter of minutes, making it universally popular from students to housewives. Although pasta is the most common use for pesto, it can be implemented in other recipes. You can create a simple yet delicious Alfredo sauce by melting pesto with cream or milk on a low heat; pesto also makes an excellent topping for an authentic Italian pizza. Pesto can also be used as a marinade for meat and goes especially well with chicken, it is also considered excellent for fish and seafood such as shrimp, as its delicate yet complex flavours do not over power it. Pesto can even be used as a replacement for more conventional condiments like mayonnaise, complimenting sandwiches and salads equally well if not better.

I sincerely hope that the information I have provided has gone some way to shine some light on this shadow on ignorance surrounding this delicious, versatile and undervalued food. To illustrate the joy that pesto could bring to your life, I leave you with the image of these two gentlemen enjoying their country’s finest export. Thank you and goodnight.