Get All of Your Greens!
Perfect for spring, summer and even fall or winter—pesto sauce is one of the most iconic sauces in the entire world. This green spread is typically used on pastas, but don’t be afraid to lather up your pizza crusts or use as sandwich spreads on warm bread for a flavor explosion.
Who Made the First Pesto?
Pesto first appeared during the Ancient Roman empire when people would combine cheese, pine nuts, oil and salt. Over the centuries, this paste became more refined until it had transformed into the agliata sauce at some point in the Middle Ages. While closer to modern day pesto, this sauce was heavy on the nuts and even heavier on the garlic.
It wasn’t until 1865 when a recipe for Pesto alla Genovese was published in a popular cookbook. Pesto is actually quite unique for this reason, because food historians are able to pinpoint the origin of the recipe so precisely. At this point, the herbs used in pesto became standardized with basil as the main ingredient. Everyone and their grandma might have their own opinion on the best way to make pesto, but the recipe will undoubtedly include fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, zesty garlic, hearty pine nuts, delicious parmesan and coarse salt.
The Best Store Bought Pesto
We’ll always suggest making your sauces and pesto from scratch—but sometimes it’s best to go store bought. This can be if you’re looking to make a warm bowl of pasta in the middle of January and there’s no fresh basil on hand, you’re looking for a quick weeknight crowd pleaser, or any other reason. However, not all pesto is created equal. Some brands skimp on the real flavoring by thinning out the jar with too much olive oil. Others might use too many pine nuts or walnuts that result in an awkward crunchy texture.
Our number one choice for store bought pesto is Rao’s Homemade Basil Pesto. The Rao family has been in the business of making the best southern Italian food available outside of Italy ever since they set up shop in New York in 1896. Over the last few years, they’ve been sharing their secrets with the masses and their jarred sauces are available in grocery stores across the country.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the clear choice is Barilla Rustic Basil Pesto. Amateur gourmands might turn up their noses at the mention of Barilla, but true foodies know this brand has been beloved for over 150 years for good reason. You’ll be surprised how much flavor is packed into this tiny jar of inexpensive pesto and even more impressed by the fresh ingredients.
While we’re at it, here’s our recommendations for the best salt and pepper to use in your kitchen. The best all-around salt in your home cooking is Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. Many test recipes and cookbook recipes use this brand; which means the proportions will match perfectly when you cook the recipes for yourself. If you’re looking to spice things up, try using white pepper. Popular in French cooking, white pepper is a great way to add dimension and depth to typical weeknight fare.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons store bought pesto
Salt & Pepper
Bake Broccoli Pizza Crust at 400°F for 10 minutes, or until 3⁄4 of the way cooked.
In a saute pan, heat oil and add sliced shallots. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
Turn off heat and set aside.
Sprinkle par-baked broccoli crust with mozzarella cheese, sauteed shallots and a few
spoons of pesto.
Bake for an additional 6-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Season with a
sprinkle of salt and pepper. Enjoy!