the dr bob pesto review

When dr bob was growing up in the bleek foodscape of the 1950s in a poor family with typical American kitchen production, he had never heard of pesto. Among so many other great food ingredients. Even his serednipitous impact with Italy at age 27 did not teach him the fine points of pesto that quickly entered his food radar. It was only some years later that an American expat in Rome clued him into the traditional way of serving pesto pasta, with cut green beans and little cubes of potato. Then the cooking team (Ani having joined up) did a sundried tomato pasta workshop with long time friend Piero who showed us how his grandmother did it. Our first experience with nontraditional pesto.

Traditional pesto (pesto Genovese) comes from the region of Italy around Genoa (Liguria), and is a mix of lots of fresh basil with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmigiano which is crushed together with mortor and pestle (note the same root "pest") by perfectionists, but in an electric blender by most of us. But other plant-based ingredients can replace these various typical ingredients. The "nuts" can be switched out first, but then the greens too, and finally nongreen food items. Like sun-dried tomatoes. Or in Sicily, a tomato ricotta base (alla Trapanese) or the pistacchio pesto with their famous pistacchio pesto (pistacchi di Bronte). A few of these are now commercially available here in the USA. More recently we discovered wild fennel pesto sauce (finocchio selvatico) which is a very delicate flavor for our now sophisticated palates (tongue in cheek).

In 2020 a search of our recipe collection for the string "pesto" got 17 hits! We had forgotten how versatile pesto is, even just the traditional version. Two of our most beloved pastas are zucchini pesto pasta and Romanesco cauliflower pasta (where it quickly became an essential optional ingredient). Here is a listing of all of these food stories,  some more lasting than others, but representative of what a bit of imagination can do with such a simple food item.

2020 lineup



piero's sundried tomato pesto pasta


tj maxx pesto pasta with asparagus


store sample sausage pesto penne


fennel pesto penne


pesto lasagna


whole wheat gnocchi with pesto and asparagus/green beans


olive leaf pasta with zucchini and pesto
  bonus recipe: fettuccine with zucchini and fiori di zucca


tomato almond pesto (siciliano, trapanese)


ferragosto farro pesto and crab salad


zucchini pesto pasta


rigatoni with broccoli romanesco


avocado pesto pasta 14-04
pesto al finocchietto selvatico pasta  17-11
farro with pesto, artichokes and tomatoes  19-01
pesto pasta with zucchini flowers and Romanesco cauliflower  19-07
Rachel Ray's Think Spring pea pesto pasta  19-09


  1. Why this pesto review now? Well, in the corona virus lockdown of 2020, cut off from our university fitness center, we exercised by doing a 25 minute walk around our town home community hill regularly (not enough!), during which we occasionally encountered some of our neighbors whom we kept at a safe distance. Having already informed our female neighbor from across the street of high protein chick pea pasta on a previous such meeting, the subject of pesto came up as an easy way to serve quick pasta without any fuss, and then bob blabbed on and on about all the pesto possibilities, including the very few nontraditional pestos available in our American supermarkets and specialty stores. Which inspired this walk down the pesto memory lane. Of course most of these recipes have cute little stories that no one ever reads, but when I go back to one of my old literary creations, I get a bit of pleasure from them, if no one else.
  2. In fact this project offered the occasion to go back and reread all of the above recipes, and let's face it,  bob has amateur talent! It was really fun. Give it a try.
  3. Illustrations? Not the usual kind.
pestoreview.htm: 2-apr-2020 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]