Ah pesto, a substance so deliciously rich and tasty there is nothing it doesn’t go with (try dipping your toast in it – go on I dare you!). This week we’re going to be taking a look at this versatile dip/sauce/love of my life and seeing how to make it, where it comes from and whats cheaper – buying it or making it?!
So what even is pesto?
Pesto is a sauce that originate from Genoa (the capital of Liguria, Italy) and comes from the Italian word pestâ which means ‘to pound’ (also gave rise to the English noun ‘pestle’ – fun fact). It is traditionally made with toasted pine nuts, salt, basil, olive oil, parmesan and garlic (some traditional variations also use pecorino sardo – a type of sheep’s milk cheese). It is common now, however, to have various types as long as they include a base of nuts, oil and cheese.
Where can I buy it from?
Any supermarket (and most convenience stores if they know whats good for them!) will stock it. Usually in the ‘red’ and ‘green’ variations. Red pesto (originating from Sicily) is made slightly differently, using sundried tomatoes and almonds instead of pine nuts. A standard sized jar of pesto (190g) averages at 97p (£1 Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco. 90p Asda) which is 51p per 100g. HOWEVER; these do not use pine nuts rather they substitute with the cheaper cashew nuts which are not as tasty! Of course there are branded versions such as Sacla and Napolena, as well as pesto sold in the fresh aisles. However, buying the own branded pesto is your best bet (lets be honest, it all tastes the same!).
So we ask the question once again, is it cheaper to make your own or is it cheaper to buy it in? And how DO we make the perfect pesto?
Anna’s Avocados perfect pesto recipe:
- 50g pine nuts
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 50g parmesan cheese
- 150g fresh basil (I recommend getting a basil plant as they are way better value for money)
- 100ml olive oil (give or take a few mls depending on your pesto liquid preference)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Makes a jar full:
1. Pop the grill on and lay out the pine nuts on an oil lined tray. Pop them under the grill until they turn a lovely golden colour – this may take around 5-10 minutes but keep checking on them.
2. Let them cool to room temperature and meanwhile grate the cheese and pop in a food processor with the basil, salt and garlic. Add a small amount of oil and blend.
3. After the pine nuts have cooled, add them to the food processor and blend.
4. Gradually add the oil until the desired consistency has been achieved.
5. Vola! Pesto for daaaaays
TOP TIP: You can freeze pesto super easy by popping it in an ice cube tray – you then have portion sized pesto for whenever your pestoy needs arise!
VERDICT: Okay so its undoubtedly cheaper to buy it rather than make it. Although the flavour is a lot nicer when you homemade it as it uses traditional ingredients such as olive oil and pine nuts rather than rapeseed oil and cashews, to save your pennies buy it from own brand supermarket range – for a nicer flavour make it yourself!
Also have a go at making up your own concoction of pesto – any leftover cheese and nuts is all you need to start off a great sauce!