May We Recommend: Homemade Pesto | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

May We Recommend: Homemade Pesto


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Pesto originated in Italy’s Liguria region around Genoa in the 16th century, although the practice of making a paste from crushed herbs, garlic, nuts and olive oil dates to the Middle Ages. The name “pesto” comes from the word “pestore” which means “to pound.”

The original pesto alla Genovese consists of crushed basil, garlic, and pine nuts blended with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and olive oil. Technically, to be labeled, “Genovese” all the key ingredients must be from Liguria; however, the name is used regularly to refer to the style of pesto. Historically, a mortar and pestle were used to achieve optimum flavors from the ingredients. The food processor simplifies making pesto with the click of a button

Freshly-made pesto is a healthy option to canned sauces that may contain added sugar, higher levels of sodium and food additives, and it is gluten-free. Once made, you can refrigerate for up to one week and freeze for up to three months in a sealed container.

If fresh basil is not available, try arugula and parsley. For both kosher and vegan pesto, substitute nutritional yeast (a.k.a. nooch) for cheese, or use buttery nut such as macadamia or cashew. Serve over pasta, with roasted fish, and grilled chicken.

Arugula Pesto

Macadamia Basil Pesto


Melanie Young writes about food, wine, travel and health. She is host of two national weekly radio shows, The Connected Table LIVE! and Fearless Fabulous YOU! Both can be heard on, iHeart App and other podcast platforms.

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