What Is Pesto Calabrese?


Short answer
Pesto alla Calabrese (or just pesto Calabrese for short) originates from Calabria in Italy and is made from charred red peppers, ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and chilli.

Long answer
In exactly the same way that the people of Trapani took the Genovese basil pesto recipe as the inspiration rather than the rule, the inhabitants of Calabria in the southwest region of Italy perfected their own version too.

By utilising the ingredients that grew in abundance around them, a spicy, smoky pesto was born thanks to the inclusion of chillies and charred red bell peppers, both of which are perfectly suited to the region's climate.

The herds of goats and sheep which graze in the rugged landscape of Calabria enabled cooks to replace the traditional Parmesan with creamy ricotta - but probably the most striking thing about pesto Calabrese is that it's the only Italian pesto to be made without basil.

As with all pestos, this sauce is great with pasta but can also be used as a dip or stuffing. We particularly like it on crostini, bruschetta and pizza - and it's a great contender for drizzling over fish and meat too.

Want to make Calabrese pesto yourself? This recipe is a good starting point...

Ricotta 100g
Olive oil 15g
Sun-dried tomatoes 20g
Almonds 50g
Roasted red peppers x2
Shallot x1
Garlic clove x1
Chilli flakes to taste
Seasoning to taste

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