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blog  /  All about pesto–as featured on Dr. Oz!

January 18, 2012

All about pesto–as featured on Dr. Oz!

Tune in today to see Lidia on Dr. Oz! To find out when the episode airs near you, click here.

When I say the word “pesto” to people in America (or anywhere outside Italy), I know they are thinking of pesto alla Genovese, with its lush green color and intense perfume of fresh basil leaves. Indeed, though there are countless fresh sauces that are also termed “pesto” in Italian cuisine, it seems that pasta with basil and pine nut pesto is so well known that it might as well be the national Italian dish!

For the most authentic flavor in a basil pesto, use a sweet, small-leaved Genovese basil for the pesto-perhaps you can find it at a farmers’ market in summer, or grow it yourself. Large basil will be delicious, too. Make extra pesto when basil and parsley are plentiful in the summer, and freeze it in small containers to use through the winter.

Of course, use the best extra-virgin olive oil available, in the pesto and on the pasta, preferably pressed from the marvelous taggiasca olives of Liguria.

Try making one of the delicious recipes below. You’ll notice pesto can indeed be made of anything, and is often made with different kinds of nuts–one of my favorites in the winter is the rich, creamy walnut pesto.

Trenette with Pesto, Genova-Style

This recipe is for a classic, simple, basil pesto.

Anna’s Spaghetti and Pesto Trapanese, as seen on Dr. Oz!
The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean–and it is a cinch to make. It’s important to make the pesto with the best ingredients then just toss in the hot cooked spaghetti to coat it and enjoy.

Spaghetti with Basil Pistachio Pesto

Everybody is familiar with pesto made with basil and pinoli nuts, but during one of my visits to Sicily, I enjoyed a pleasant pesto surprise: the pinoli were replaced with pistachios. Although Sicily is known for its delicious pistachios, 98 percent of the pistachios eaten in the US come from California. So do try this pesto rendition.

Walnut Pesto

This uncooked dressing, enriched with ricotta and butter, is delicious and quite different from the herb-based pestos I’ve found in other regions. You can blend it together in a bowl while the pasta water is heating up and have a distinctive pasta appetizer or main course in minutes. To retain its vibrant, fresh flavors, it is important not to cook the pesto, just toss it with the pasta and serve.

Basil and Walnut Pesto

This distinctively flavored pesto is a superb dressing for maccheroni alla chitarra, spaghetti, or linguine, and would work on a short dry pasta such as gemelli, lumache, or rigatoni. It’s a great condiment, too: put a spoonful on fish or chicken hot off the grill for a real treat.

Strangozzi with Chard and Almond Sauce

This is a fresh and extremely flavorful preparation for strangozzi. The dressing has two components, tender cooked Swiss chard and an uncooked pesto of fresh basil and mint leaves and toasted almonds. Other leafy greens, such as spinach, chicory, and arugula, could be used, and walnuts could replace the almonds, but the recipe here is true to the region).


Food Books and Dvds Tableware

Lidia's Italy in America
Lidia brings viewers on a road trip into the heart of Italian-American cooking.
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Lidia's Pasta and Sauces
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Lidia's Stoneware Collection

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