It is the most widespread sauce in the world, pesto is synonimous of Liguria at the table.
Basil, severely the Pra’s one, garlic, better the Vassilico’s one, salt, pecorino, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and oil. These simple ingredients, placed in the mortar in a very wisely cronology and crushed with mastery, they produce a cream with a brilliant green color and has an unique perfume. Perfect to spice the classical trofie, but suitable many others plates.
Pesto probably descends from the anciant romans moretum, a green paste obteined from cheese, garlic and grass, which the preparation is described also in a poem confer to Virgilio. Pesto, as we know it today, it wasn’t really diffused during the Cristoforo Colombo’s time (1451-1506), the most famous ligurian in the world. There was in Italy, during thre Middle Ages, a “plebeian” sauce which can thus be considered an ancient, somehow, of the modern pesto sauce. It was the “agliata”, a beaten mixture of walnuts and of course garlic that has had for centuries a crucial place in the alimentetion of genoese and ligurian people, most of all for those who travel by sea. They were many because Genoa and Liguria have anciant maritime traditions. Sailors used to eat a large quantity because they tought that in this way they could prevent illnesses and inections during the long navigations in conditions with very scarce igenic precariousness.
In the nineteenth century the “pasta al pesto” was considere a popular food and the receipt of that period has remained substantially the same. There was moreover – and there still are now – in Liguria the custom of add potatoes, broad beans or green beans, sometimes even courgettes cut in small pices, baked together with pasta. In Genoa in the specific it add potatoes and green beans in the classic trenette or “avantaggiate”, or rather those made with wholeweat flour, or trofiette. The interpretations anyway there are not univocals. For someone the “avantaggiate” is a type of pasta made in additions to vegetables. There is also a school of tought that exclude categorically the adding of potatoes to the trofie. In general it is said that in Liguria it is difficult to find two identical pesto sauce, due to the variations, such as the addition of ricotta or other type of cheese. This happen to other various italian traditional plates, many of them had termined their evolution in the last decades. Or moreover they still are in a work in progress phase. In the italian cuisine, the variations of a plate represent not only the richness of diversity, but also they are an indirect legitimization of the generally accepted version.