Everyone knows the traditional pesto. The super tasty and simple Italian sauce based on basil and pine nuts. It is very summery. But here we have made a typical autumn variant: autumn pesto with arugula, lamb's lettuce and walnuts. Perfectly adapted to the season. But what is pesto, where does it come from and what can you do with it? You can read that later in the article, after the recipe.
About this autumn pesto
This autumn pesto is a nice variation on the traditional pesto alla Genovese with basil and pine nuts. We like to use ingredients that suit the season. And in the fall, these are of course unmistakable walnuts, lamb's lettuce and arugula.
Lamb's lettuce and/or arugula?
Should you use both lamb's lettuce and arugula? No, you can also just make an arugula pesto by using only arugula salad. It obviously tastes much more intense. You get a softer variant by fully betting on lamb's lettuce. I like to use a mixture of both.
Would you like an extra flavor with your pesto? Then first chop the walnuts and then roast them for a few minutes in your pan. It is of course a little more work, but you get a nice extra dimension in your taste.
The walnuts have an important function to bind the sauce. So if your sauce is too runny, you can decide to add some extra walnuts. If it is too thick, you might add some additional olive oil.
The grated Parmesan
Of course you you should not feel forced to use original Parmesan cheese. There are many tasty alternatives that are more budget friendly. It is important that you use a hard, dry and salty cheese that you can grate well. The cheese forms an important flavor component and absorbs a lot of moisture.
The olive oil and the garlic
Because this autumn pesto is a cold preparation, it is important that you use a good and good tasting olive oil: an extra virgin. On Aceite de las Valdenas you can read a good article about the different types of olive oil and their classification.
You also have to be a little careful with the garlic in this cold preparation. Then the garlic can taste very strong. And the scent lingers in your mouth for ages. And also not every clove of garlic is the same size. So take that into account. If you have big cloves, only use one. If you fear it will be too intensive, only use one clove.
Mixer or mortar?
Traditionally, pesto is made with a mortar. That's where the name comes from (see below). But nowadays, of course, we have very good kitchen utensils that can reduce manual labor. So I admit, I also mix everything fine with the machine.
However, the manual mortar still has an advantage over the mechanical method. The intensity of the mixing can cause the leaves to “cook”. Then they fade and lose their color. Therefore, you should only mix briefly and immediately add some lemon juice to stabilize the color.
Which dishes fit to this autumn pesto?
Just like the classic pesto, you can use this autumn pesto in many dishes. The classic and best known dish is of course pasta pesto. Quickly prepared, very tasty and simple.
This autumn pesto also tastes very well as a spread or on toasted bread! You can also season meat or fish very well with it.
Below you will find some interesting links for your inspiration.
When was pesto invented, and where did it come from? And what can you use it for. We explain it here briefly.
Origin of pesto
Pesto is an ancient Italian sauce. The first mention of a sauce in which herbs, cheese, oil and vinegar are tamped even goes back to the time of the Romans. It is therefore a classic with a lot of tradition and perhaps the oldest sauce we know in Europe.
Genoa is the city with which pesto is inextricably linked. Hence the name "pesto alla Genovese". The most delicious basil in the world is said to grow in Liguria (that is the region around Genoa). And in large quantities! So no wonder they got creative there to process this tasty herb in different ways.
The name “pesto” actually means crushed. Pestare means crushing in Italian. And so we arrive at the mortar, which was traditionally used to make pesto. The basil, pine nuts, cheese and oil were mashed in a mortar into an oily sauce with a pleasantly creamy texture. The Romans had no mixers or other electrical appliances.
Shelf life of pesto and autumn pesto
You have certainly already noticed: ingredients such as basil, lamb's lettuce and arugula do not store well. If you don't use them immediately, they will become limp and you can only throw them away. Even with our current refrigerators, usability remains very limited over time.
And that's exactly where pesto offers the solution. By processing the herbs you can keep them much longer. That is probably also the reason why the Ligurians and the Romans started to use them in this sauce. To be able to use them after the harvest.
Fresh homemade pesto can easily be kept in the fridge for a week. And in the freezer you can even keep it for three months without any problems. It is advisable to freeze meal portions, so that you only thaw what you actually use.
What can you eat pesto (and autumn pesto) with?
The classic par excellence is of course pasta pesto. A quick and healthy lunch. You just need to cook the pasta and then mix it with the pesto that you have prepared, or have quickly prepared in the meantime. You can also process the pesto in a cream sauce and then eat it with ravioli or tortellini, the stuffed Italian pasta.
But you can also just eat it as a topping on your sandwich. Try toasting a piece of French bread or a slice of bread and spreading it with pesto. Delicious!
You can also use it as a marinade or sauce for different types of meat and fish.
Finally, you can also use pesto as a dressing for salads or to flavor soups. The possibilities are inexhaustible.
Please find here some more inspiration for dishes using pesto:
- Pesto recipes - BBC good food
- 26 Recipes That Start With Pesto - The spruce eats
- Easy pesto recipes - Olive magazine
Mediterranean cuisine is so tasty and simple! With few but pure and tasty ingredients, the Italians conjure up the tastiest dishes on their plates. Looking for more Italian inspiration with a twist? Then take a look at the following surprising recipes:
- Asparago tonnato (asparagus with a delicious tuna fish sauce)
- Gnocchi with cranberry sauce (Italian gnocchi with Nordic cranberries)
- linguine alla puttanesca (how an improvisation became a classic)
- Refreshing coconut polenta cake (surprising Asian-Italian cake)
- Sensational Mozzarella Panna Cotta
- Sicilian tuna pasta with baked caper
- Cinnamon butter gnocchi (a carnival dish from Veneto)
- Tuscan linguine with scallops and spinach cream
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.