The Italian word for pesto is 'pestare', and translates of 'to pound, or to crush'. Pesto was initially prepared with a marble mortar and wooden pestle. The sauce is thought to have two predecessors dating back as far as the Roman age.
A similar paste to pesto was known as 'moretum'. This was made by crushing garlic, salt, cheese, herbs, olive oil and vinegar together was popular amongst Romans attributed in the book, "Pesto Genovese: an Ageless Benchmark of Great Italian Cuisine."
During the Middle Ages, a traditional sauce in the Genoan cuisine was 'agliata'. This simple staple was basically a mash of garlic and walnuts, with garlic being the utmost ingredient for health reasons, especially for the seafarers.
The more commonplace pesto recipe took Italy by storm in the mid-nineteenth century. The olive-oil based pesto is considered the oldest oil-based sauce. There are so different versions of the recipe for pesto sauce, and it is easy to change it to your individual taste with adding or taking away some garlic.
Pesto can be construed as generic; it leaves the recipe open to flexibility by allowing different ways to prepare the sauce. When we think of pesto, we think of pasta. When I think of mint pesto, I consider lamb in the winter months.
Did you know that mint pesto is especially delicious with grilled shrimp and one of the easiest recipes to create?
Decide for yourself, how this sauce can be used with your favorites. It can be prepared for in advance and stored.
Mint Pesto Sauce
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cups minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts (aka pignolia)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Place mint/parsley leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, chopped garlic, olive oil (1 tablespoon), salt and pepper in food processor; cover. Process just until smooth. Gradually add additional oil with machine running.
2. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 1 week.
2 lbs. peeled, deveined shrimp (any size)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1. Place shrimp in a glass bowl. Stir remaining ingredients together; pour over shrimp. Cover and marinate for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Remove mint pesto sauce from container and place in pan on low heat until hot
3. Baste enough oil over the shrimp to coat and place on grill, cooking until shrimp appear white. Flip and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more
4. Arrange grilled shrimp and sauce on platter and serve.