What Is Pesto?

Pesto is easily recognizable by it's rich green color and surprisingly flavorful taste. You've probably seen this versatile sauce everywhere from pizza to pasta, and not to mention in a number of unexpected dishes. But, what exactly is pesto? We've compiled everything you need to know about the cheesy green sauce and even included some of our favorite recipes!

Spoonful of pesto sauce

The name is the comes from the Genoese word pestâ, which means "to pound", "to crush". Strictly speaking, pesto is a generic term for anything that is made by pounding; that is why the word is used for several pestos in Italy. Even so, pesto alla genovese remains the most popular pesto in Italy and the rest of the world.

What Goes In To Making Pesto?

Italian Pesto Ingredients

Traditional pesto is made of from:

  • fresh basil
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • pine nuts
  • cheese

Pesto is traditionally prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. First, garlic and pine nuts are placed in the mortar and reduced to a cream, and then the washed and dried basil leaves are added with coarse salt and ground to a creamy consistency. Only then is a mix of cheese and olive oil added.

For a more modern take on fresh homemade pesto, try out this delicious Oola recipe!

5 Best Uses For Pesto

1. Pasta

Pasta is a natural partner for pesto. As you toss hot cooked pasta with the pesto, the heat brings out the fabulous flavors of the basil, garlic, and cheese. For those who aren't afraid of stepping outside of the box, we reccomend this delicious pesto zoodles recipe!

2. Dip

vegetable tray with pesto dip

You can mix pesto into various cream dips. The most popular include: sour cream, guacamole, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Our favorite is an Easy and Delicious Hummus Recipe!

3. Spread on a Sandwich

Pesto chicken panini

Mix pesto with mayonnaise or use as is on sandwich bread or flatbread. Make a pesto spread by mixing it with cream cheese and serving with bagels. Try these simple tips to create the most satisfying sandwich combos!

4. Mix Into Salad Dressing

Italian fusilli pesto pasta salad

Pesto salad dressing is perfect for any type of salad. You can thin it out into a vinaigrette for quick and tasty summer salads. The other alternative would be to keep pesto's rich and creamy texture to create a thick, zesty buttermilk dressing.

5. Drizzle Over Your Favorite Savory Breakfast

Boiled egg with pesto on toast for breakfast

Drizzle pesto over your favorite breakfast eggs to add a touch of herbs and cheese. Or, spice up that avocado toast by mixing in a touch of pesto. Hungry for more? Try out these go-to toast topping recipes!

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