What Is Aeolian Caper Pesto?

Volcanic rock on the Aeolian island of Panarea

Short answer
Pesto from the volcanic Aeolian Islands is characterised by the generous inclusion of capers, which gives the sauce an unmistakably salty, briny tang.

Long answer
Many regard the collection of volcanic Aeolian Islands just north of Sicily as the most beautiful archipelago in the whole of the Mediterranean.

While the playboys and playgirls of Italy may have made Panarea the most famous and expensive of the seven islands, we're much more enamoured with Salina, where the islanders cultivate what some regard as the finest capers on the planet.

Just like the island of Pantelleria, Salina has fertile volcanic soil, long periods of sun, and a cool sea breeze, which creates the perfect growing conditions for capers.

Known as the orchids of Salina, May to August is when the locals gather the tiny caper buds before curing them in salt for several months to remove any trace of bitterness. They feature heavily in the local cuisine and, naturally, are the star of the show when it comes to Aeolian pesto.

How to Make Aeolian Caper Pesto

Ingredient Quantity
Cherry tomatoes 250g
Almonds 25g
Pistachios 25g
Capers 20g
Basil x1 bunch
Mint x1 sprig
Garlic x1 clove
Olive oil as needed
Chilli flakes to taste
Seasoning to taste

Cut a small "X" on the bottom of each tomato and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel off the skin and cut each tomato into quarters. Discard the seeds. Blot with a sheet of kitchen towel to remove excess juices.

Thoroughly rinse the capers and wash the basil and mint.

Add all the ingredients apart from the olive oil to a food processor and pulse the sauce until it reaches your preferred consistency.

Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl and slowly stream in the olive oil while stirring by hand.