Green and red Italian pesto are really popular, but have you ever tried an authentic white pesto or “pesto bianco”, as we call it?
Today, we are making a very easy and tasty one, that’s however much lighter than the other options out there.
What to expect: a garlicky white pesto goodness that’s creamy, nutty and a little cheesy. Sounds good, right?
What is Pesto Bianco?
Pesto bianco, also known as “white pesto,” is a variation of the more well-known green pesto sauce. While traditional green pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, pesto bianco substitutes some of these ingredients to create a creamy, white version of the sauce.
Pesto bianco is quite versatile and can be used in various ways, much like traditional green pesto. It can be tossed with pasta, used as a sauce for chicken or fish, spread on sandwiches or bruschetta, or even used as a dip for bread or vegetables.
Where does Pesto Bianco come from?
Pesto bianco, also known as “pesto bianco Ligure,” is not as well-documented in terms of its origin compared to traditional green pesto. However, it is believed to have originated in the Liguria region of Italy, which is also the birthplace of the classic green pesto sauce.
Liguria, located in northwestern Italy along the Mediterranean coast, is famous for its cuisine, particularly its pesto sauce. Traditional Ligurian pesto, which is green in color, is made using fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It’s a regional specialty that has become popular worldwide.
Pesto bianco likely emerged as a variation of the green pesto sauce in Liguria, with a few modifications to the ingredients.
What is Pesto Bianco made of?
The primary ingredients in pesto bianco typically include:
- Pine Nuts: Just like in traditional pesto, pine nuts are a key component of pesto bianco, adding a rich, nutty flavor.
- Garlic: Garlic is used to give the sauce its characteristic savory and aromatic quality.
- Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese is an essential ingredient that adds a creamy texture and a salty, umami flavor to the sauce.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is used to bind the ingredients together and give the sauce a smooth consistency.
- Additional Ingredients: Some variations of pesto bianco may also include ingredients like ricotta cheese, cream, or other nuts (such as almonds or cashews) to enhance the creaminess and flavor of the sauce.
Pesto Bianco Pasta Recipe
Now that you know what pesto bianco really is and the necessary ingredients, we can proceed to make it. Here’s the recipe card with all the steps, not many I promise.
Light Pesto Bianco Recipe
- 1 blender
- 1 silicone spatula
- 1 medium sized pot
- 1 pasta drainer
- 1 grater
- 4 cloves garlic
- 20 gr pine nuts
- 30 gr parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp Belmorso extra virgin olive oil
- 100 ml cooking cream
- water as needed
- 120 gr Belmorso Trofie Pasta
- optional parsley
- Blend garlic, pine nuts, pecorino and Belmorso EVOO.
- Season, and add cream. Mix and blend again.
- Boil the water for your pasta.
- Add your trofie to cook.
- Drain the pasta, reserving some cooking water, just in case.
- Mix the pasta and the pesto bianco you made. Add cooking water only if needed.
- Serve with more grated cheese & some parsley on top. Buon appetito
Common Questions about White Pesto
Can I make pesto bianco at home?
Yes, you can make pesto bianco at home. It’s a simple and versatile sauce that you can prepare using common ingredients like pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and sometimes ricotta or cream. You can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences.
What dishes can I use white pesto in?
Pesto bianco is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including:
- Pasta: Toss it with pasta such as fettuccine, linguine, or penne.
- Sandwiches: Spread it on sandwiches or panini for added flavor.
- Chicken or Fish: Use it as a sauce for grilled chicken or fish.
- Pizza: Drizzle it on pizza as a flavorful alternative to red sauce.
- Vegetables: Roast or sauté vegetables and mix in white pesto.
- Appetizers: Serve it as a dip with bread or crackers.
Is pesto bianco suitable for vegetarians or vegans?
Pesto bianco can be suitable for vegetarians, but it often contains dairy products like Parmesan cheese or ricotta. To make it vegan-friendly, you can substitute dairy-free alternatives like nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese. Be sure to check the ingredients or make your own vegan version at home.
Are there any regional variations of white pesto?
Yes, there can be regional variations of white pesto in Italy and beyond. Different regions may have their own twists on the recipe, incorporating local ingredients and flavors. For example, Ligurian white pesto might have variations compared to a version from another region. It’s always interesting to explore these regional differences to discover new flavors.