challenges Sauces

The Pesto Challenge

Pesto is a beautiful Italian Sauce which originates from Ligura, a region in the northern part of Italy. Pesto alla Genovese from the city of Genoa in Liguria is essentially Pesto but with the Basil from the city of Genoa and the Pine Nuts from Italy.


The traditional classic recipe is made with Basil, Pine Nuts, Garlic, Parmesan Cheese, Olive Oil and Salt. But if you scour the internet blogs for Pesto, you will find that people go nuts! You can make Pesto with walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, pepitas, brazilians, sunflower seeds and even peanuts! So lets try several of them. 

Another interesting option to the recipe is whether you slightly roast the nuts or not. Roasting should bring out more flavor and creaminess but most of the recipes dismiss this step and simply smash everything into a food processer and start pulsing. So is it really better with a little pre roast of the nuts or not?

These are the two questions for our Pesto Challenge.

We selected four nuts – Pine Nuts (which is actually not a nut but only called that in the english language), Walnuts, Cashews, and Pistachios. We made each one with roasted nuts and raw nuts. What were our findings?

Most flavorful was the Roasted Pistachio Pesto. This pesto really has a strong lovely exotic taste to it. The nuts really come out with a unique pungent flavor. Even raw beats all the others.

We found the roasted nut pestos were better for Pistachios, Pine Nuts, and Cashews. For the Walnuts, the raw actually had more flavor. However this could simply be due to the roasting. The Walnuts take longer to roast and perhaps we should have roasted them a bit longer.

Pine Nuts came in 2nd. Walnuts in 3rd, and Cashews 4th. We will not make Pesto with Cashews ever again. There is not enough taste from the nuts. It must get a little lost in the other wonderful flavors. But for the other 3, they were delicious both raw and roasted

If you choose not to roast, then the pesto will have a slightly fresher taste to it. This could be preferred in the Spring & Summer months. Also one can add a little lemon to really make the sun shine more!

We hope this was interesting for you. For sure others will have different opinions and we would love to hear them.

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