Today's tip

Every region of Italy has its own rendition of pesto.

Pestare literally means “to trample” which is exactly what happens when making a pestata or a pesto. When I say the word “pesto” to people in America, they are most likely thinking of pesto alla Genovese, with its lush green color and intense perfume of fresh basil leaves. However, since pesto is a generic term for anything made by compounding, there are countless other kinds of pesto, and every region of Italy has its own rendition of pesto.

Pesto is classically from Liguria and consists of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, which is great for dressing pasta, but every region has its own version of pesto. Pesto trapanese, made with basil, almonds, and fresh tomatoes, is a quick and easy way to dress pasta. I also enjoy pesto of walnuts and basil.

Whether you grow it or buy it, I highly recommend that in late summer and fall, (or whenever fresh basil is abundant in your area), you make a big batch of basil pesto to be stored in the freezer for those dreary winter days. In a food processor, combine fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, some parsley leaves, and extra-virgin olive oil, and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once it is frozen, pop the cubes out, wrap them in a bit of plastic, then seal the batch in giant zip-lock bags. Protected from freezer burn, your basil cubes will provide bursts of fresh flavor in soups, tomato sauces, and vegetable pasta sauces all year long!