Marinated Olive and Basil Pesto Sauce

Spring…green, green….Spring. This year my heart started yearning early for the change in the season. Even here in California winter was feeling too long…too gray…too dull. This was the first winter I had spent without my dad in my life and March was the one year anniversary of his passing and during this already heavy time in life I was finding it harder to take the natural heaviness that comes along with winter. The grayer days, the shorter darker evenings and the lack of time spent outside felt bigger and less manageable this year. The need for the bright green of spring’s grass against the blue of the sky was calling me. The smell of a spring mornings and the colors of the first flowers were constantly on my mind. I needed the newness and the hope that comes with Spring. The excitement of seeing things grow and the world change and come alive before my eyes. I needed the sun and the soil and the seeds. I needed this new season. I needed Spring….I needed color….I needed GREEN….not only outside but inside. I wanted to make something with it…and since I just happened to have on hand a delicious looking jar of GREEN marinated olives from my last Gusto di Roma shipment, a beautiful GREEN basil plant setting on my counter…and just enough pine nuts left in the house to feel safe, I decide that a variation on the classic basil pesto recipe would be the perfect thing to create. Adding this yummy basil GREEN sauce to some comforting warm pasta seemed the perfect early spring thing to do as well! So, here is to newness and to Spring…and here is to Italy and the comfort of a perfect plate of pasta….here is to GREEN.

~About Pesto~

  • Pesto originated in Genoa in the region of Liguria in Northern Italy.

  • The classic recipe - Pesto alla Genovese was first published in 1865 in the book La Cucina Genovese but recipes such a this have been around since ancient Roman times.

  • The word Pesto come from the Italian word Pestare which means to crush, mash or press.

  • Originally Pesto was made using a mortar and pestle …I’m sure there are many that still make it this way :)

  • The classic Pesto recipe was made using basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and a hard cheese like parmesan or pecorino.

  • Pesto received it’s first mention and explanation in an American paper in the New York Times in 1944.

  • Sunset magazine first published a recipe for pesto sauce in 1946….which was most likely the first in a major American publication.

  • Angelo Pellegrini was the contributor for the recipe in Sunset Magazine and his Pesto recipe gave no exact amounts.

  • Even though Pesto had started to make it’s way into homes in America in the 40’s and 50’s, and was in publications over the years, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that it became popular

~The Recipe~

Marinated Olive and Basil Pesto Sauce

  • 1 Cup marinated green olives in oil* (see note below before starting recipe)

  • 1 Heaping cup fresh basil leaves

  • 1/3 Cup pine nuts

  • 1 Clove garlic

  • 1/4 Cup finely grated Pecorino cheese

  • 1/4 - 1/3 Cup Olive Oil* (see note below before starting recipe)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add olives, basil, pine nuts and garlic to a food processor and puree.

  2. In a steady stream add in olive oil and puree again.

  3. Add in pecorino cheese and blend well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with one of the below suggestions

*Note - I used green olives that had been packed in sunflower oil. I liked the taste of the oil so I used some of it and then finished off with olive oil. The above amounts are approximate. More or less oil can be used depending on the consistency you would like and what you are using the recipe for.

~Serving Suggestions~

  • Pesto Pasta - Cook 1 lb pasta according to package directions. Add Pesto sauce and serve warm with additional grated pecorino cheese….this is what I did :)

  • Pesto Pasta - Cook 1 lb pasta according to package directions. Add Pesto sauce and let cool to room temp. Mix in fresh sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh cubed mozzarella and basil. Serve cold or at room temp.

  • Panino Da Cortona from Life Lemons Italy - Recipe HERE

  • Pesto Bruschetta - Top slices of grilled baguette with pesto and drizzle with olive oil.

  • Easy Appetizer - Top slices of salami with a dot of pesto and a cube of mozzarella for a pretty appetizer.

  • Pesto Pizza - Spread pesto on pizza crust and top with fresh tomatoes, cooked chicken or prosciutto and cover with mozzarella cheese.

  • Pesto Butter - Mix pesto into butter and spread on toasted french bread.

  • Pesto Hummus - Mix pesto into hummus and top with pine nuts, basil or mint and a drizzle of olive oil.

There are so many more options too!

Buon appetito!