Doofus Holding Up The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Florence!

Pesto 3-Ways

PESTOOOOOO BABEH! Who doesn’t love it!? If you’ve never made your own pesto, you’re seriously missing out. Between store-bought pesto versus homemade pesto, there’s just no contest. Plus, it’s fairly rare that you’ll find “clean” or paleo-approved pesto. When I was in Italy, there was sometimes one dish with pesto on the restaurant’s menu, but, mostly none at all, which I found surprising. More often than not, I saw pesto being used as a quick sauce/condiment on the street vendor food carts instead of in restaurants.

Italy’s different regions and cities all use slightly different ingredients and have very different signature dishes, thus, their pesto’s also vary by region. That may have been my favorite part of the trip… Visiting different cities and seeing the restaurant menus and the street food selections change dramatically. One of my favorite experiences on the trip was eating at a restaurant in Florence. We had the same tour guide/driver for a lot of our Italy trip, and we were constantly asking him to take us to the restaurants that HE eats at with his family – not the tourist traps.

The local restaurant he took us to was the tiniest hole in the wall and literally no one in there spoke a lick of English… PERFECT. Exactly what I was looking for. The food was amazingly fresh and cooked literally RIGHT in front of you, in a completely open and extremely small kitchen, all by one chef. When I think of pesto or any sort of authentic Italian food, I’m always transported back to our trip and that beautiful, hole-in-the-wall, Firenze restaurant.

Alright, chuck the sentimental bullcrap and let’s get down to pestobusiness. Luckily, pesto is stupid-easy to make & customize. Just switching the nuts instantly gives you a completely different tasting pesto! You can eat it hot or cold and on top of virtually anything, but, either way, fresh pesto is always best. You just can’t beat the flavor. Pick a region and enjoy!

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Arno River in Florence. That famous little bridge is covered in tiny shops on both sides!

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Just poopin’ whilst tipping the tower over.

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Rico Suavé.

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the real Statue of David… disproportionate genitalia and all.

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‘David’ boxers that I IMMEDIATELY regretted not buying.

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Beautiful view of Florence

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Firenze!

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Florence Cathedral

Pesto 3-Ways
 
Ingredients
Traditional Pesto Genovese (Genoa):
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed & thoroughly dried
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt, to taste
Pesto Amalfitano (Amalfi Coast):
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed & thoroughly dried
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt, to taste
Pesto Trapanese (Sicily/Trapani):
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed & thoroughly dried
  • ½ cup almonds (I use slivered or Mercona, when available)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese
  • 3 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the herbs, nuts, cheese, garlic, salt, and tomatoes (if using) in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape the sides as needed.
  2. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil. Less oil will make a good paste for spreading and more will make a good pasta sauce or soup addition.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue pulsing until olive oil is emulsified and the pesto looks uniform. (I like mine kinda chunky.)
  4. Taste the pesto and add more salt, garlic, nuts or cheese as needed, to taste.
  5. Pesto will brown very quickly, but will still be tasty and fresh for days. For appearances, use immediately. If storing, store it in the smallest airtight container possible and thoroughly press the pesto to eliminate air pockets. Pour a layer of olive oil over the surface, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto freezes surprisingly well and can be frozen for several months.
  6. Serve pesto with ripe cherry tomatoes & freshly grated cheese over zoodles.

 

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Nicole
Blogger at Merit + Fork
Chef de Cuisine of Merit + Fork, Nicole's posts are primarily food driven, with a dash of natural health and beauty tips for good measure.

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