Pesto originates from the Italian word “pestare” which means “to pound” or “to crush”. Traditionally made by pounding ingredients in a mortar and pestle, this Italian sauce has been slathered on pizzas, spread on sandwiches and served as a delightful dip for quite some time.
The Different types of Pesto
If you follow the pesto trail around Italy, you’ll find several different types rooted in regional culinary traditions. The classic basil pesto originates from the Liguria region and is made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil. Pesto Siciliano is made with fresh tomatoes, almonds and sometimes, anchovies. Pesto Calabrese includes roasted red peppers for additional sweetness. The pesto we’re going to make today is known for its use of sun dried tomatoes and this makes it distinctly different from the rest. While it also includes basil, this pesto has a tomato forward flavour that’s slightly sweet and tangy.
Sun Dried Tomatoes and How to Rehydrate Them?
Traditionally, sun dried tomatoes were made just as the name suggested – by sun drying ripe Roma tomatoes for several days. However, today, they are oven dried at a low temperature for convenience. Sun dried tomatoes are like fresh tomatoes on steroids! They’re so flavourful with their sweetness, subtle tanginess and punchy umami notes. They have an incredible shelf life and bring an intense burst of tomato goodness to any dish.
In this recipe, we’ll be rehydrating the sun-dried tomatoes. This is done to make the tomatoes softer and easier to blend. Soaking also revives the flavour and makes the pesto taste more vibrant. All you have to do is take a portion of sun dried tomatoes and add it to a bowl along with double that amount of water. Microwave for 2 minutes and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Fish out the tomatoes and use as needed. Hold on to that soaking water though, because it has a ton of flavour! You can add it to your pasta, risotto or use it in the pesto recipe as we’re going to do.
The Nutri-blend Smart boasts 3 convenient pre-set programs – Chutney, Dry Masala and Smoothie which are meticulously crafted to suit the Indian cook’s every culinary need. Consider the Chutney mode, despite the label reading chutney, its capabilities aren’t limited to just that. As you’ll discover, it also makes the perfect pesto! This illustrates the Nutri-blend’s multifunctionality – it’s a blender that adapts to your every need, whether you’re blending smoothies, making sauces or grinding spices.
The real game changer with the Nutri-blend Smart is that it helps you break free from the confines of the kitchen counter. You can confidently turn the machine on and trust that you’ll get perfection every time. To be honest, I did wonder – does it really make a difference? Surely, I could stand by my mixer for 30,45 or even 60 seconds right? However, multitasking is a huge part of cooking in any kitchen and the ability to just dump ingredients into a jar and move on to the next job makes a huge difference. This is largely possible due to the double pulse technology which effectively negates the need to scrape down your mixer at intervals. The mixer is also incredibly sleek and stylish. Like many cooks around India, counter top space is a major issue for me so I love how light and easy the Nutri-blend Smart is as compared to conventional mixers.
The Texture of Pesto Rosso
Depending on the ratio of ingredients, your pesto can be smooth or chunky. Personally, I prefer a slightly chunkier pesto, especially for sandwiches but you can always add a bit more liquid to make yours smooth. You can also taste the pesto, adjust any seasonings and run it on the chutney mode once again if you’d like it to be smoother. The recipe below makes one that’s not too smooth or chunky, perfectly in the middle so it’s a good place to start from. No matter the texture, the flavours will pop and work in any pasta, sandwich or wrap.
- ½ cup Sundried Tomatoes
- 1 cup Water (Reserve 2 Tbsp Tomato Water)
- ½ + 1 Tbsp cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Pods
- 16-20 Almonds
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan
- 8-10 Basil Leaves
- ⅛ tsp Salt
- Add the sundried tomatoes and water to a mug and microwave for 2 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, gather and measure the rest of the ingredients. Clean the basil leaves, peel the garlic and grate the parmesan.
- Once the tomatoes are soft and cool, add them to the Nutriblend Smart grinding jar along with 2 tbsp of the soaking water.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and run on chutney mode for 30 seconds.
- Taste the pesto and adjust seasoning if needed. Run it once more on chutney mode.
- Transfer the pesto into a serving dish and top with 1 tbsp olive oil.