A good pesto pizza should have bold pesto flavor. I don’t want it to taste faintly of basil, garlic, Parmesan and olive oil—I want those flavors to bowl me over. The key is to spread a generous layer of pesto over the pizzas before baking, and then top them with more pesto when they come out of the oven. Not only do these pizzas taste very “pesto-y,” they also look gorgeous and feel a little more special than your typical pizza pie.
Pesto Pizza – The History of Pesto Sauce: To trace the history of pesto, you need to go back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when the Genoan republic stretched south from the northern Italian port city to encompass both Corsica and Sardinia. Pesto evolved to make use of the republic’s rich bounty: basil from nearby Prà; pine nuts grown near Pisa; garlic from Vessalico; pecorino from Sardinia; parmigiano reggiano from Emilia-Romagna; and Ligurian olive oil and sea salt. Some even think that pasta, adapted from imported Chinese noodles, found its first foothold in Italy around this time, and from the time the Italians invented pesto it has always been prepared with crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and including Fiore Sardo, a cheese made from sheep’s milk.
It is possible the mineral-rich seaside soil and temperate climate of Liguria is why pesto sauce has become a beloved sauce in northeren Italy, as they have the perfect conditions for growing basil.
The Meaning of Pesto: The Italian word for pesto: pestare, means to pound, or to crush. Pesto was originally prepared with a marble mortar and wooden pestle.
The ingredients were pounded or crushed with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar.
The book “Pesto Genovese: an Ageless Benchmark of Great Italian Cuisine,” writes that the ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, prepared by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together.
Because the term pesto is a generic word for anything that is made by pounding or crushing, that leaves the original pesto sauce recipe open to flexible and differing ways to prepare the sauce.
Mozzarella Cheese, pesto sauce, oregano and fresh garlic
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