Cooking with Italian Basil Pesto

When it comes to a light and fresh summertime sauce, it doesn’t get much better than a good Italian basil pesto. Hailing from Genoa, a classic pesto contains basil, salt, garlic, pine nuts, hard Italian cheese and plenty of extra virgin olive oil, all ground in a pestle and mortar until the ideal texture and consistency is reached. This complex combination of flavours complements everything from a big bowl of pasta to a delicate piece of fish, and it makes cooking super-flavourful meals quick and easy.

At Diforti, our simple, authentic basil pesto is extra-special because we use vegetarian hard cheese for a preservative-free, gluten-free and nut-free sauce – here’s how to make the most of this fragrant favourite.

Pair It with Pasta

Pesto is a specialty of the fishing villages of Liguria, where it is typically paired with trofie, a short, twisted pasta shape, as well as green beans and potatoes. You can easily make this dish at home by boiling pasta in the same pot as some cubed potatoes and green beans, then draining the water and tossing it all in a high quality pesto. If you’re feeling really cheeky, grate a bit of extra Parmigiano-Reggiano on top for an extra boost of salty richness.

Add It to Eggs

Beyond pasta, pesto can enhance the flavour of so many different dishes. Upgrade your favourite brunch bite by stirring pesto and mozzarella into your frittata before baking, then topping it with fresh tomatoes and truffle pecorino. If you’re feeling lazy, you could even mix pesto into scrambled eggs for a quick, effortless meal.

Serve It on Salads

Jazz up a boring salad by adding a spoonful of herby pesto to your greens. It’s divine with a simple tomato salad, and it’s also great served over caramelised roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes, red peppers and cauliflower. Want to try something different? Make this pesto corn salad and hummus crostini to break free from your typical lettuce mix.

Brush It onto Meat and Fish

Pesto and chicken are a match made in heaven, but the verdant sauce works just as well with fish and other types of meat, too. Try serving a juicy steak with pesto instead of salsa verde, or brush a thick layer of pesto on top of cod before baking. Looking to change it up? Switch out basil pesto for red pesto, which uses sun-dried tomatoes to give the sauce sweetness and a striking colour.

Whether you use pesto to make authentic Italian food or you add it to your own masterful recipes, this herbaceous ingredient is sure to transform the way you cook. It allows for maximum flavour with minimal effort, meaning you can spend less time hunched over a hot stovetop during the summer and more time enjoying a meal with the people you love, in true Italian style. Plus, it’s undeniably delicious – we’ve been known to sneak a spoonful or two straight from the jar when no one’s looking. We promise not to tell if you don’t!


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