What Is Poor Man's Pesto?

Poor man's pesto with plenty of herbs

Short answer
Sicily's poor man's pesto (pesto povero in Italian) is a highly aromatic sauce, particularly popular in Agrigento on the island's southern coast.

Long answer
If you're lucky enough to travel around Italy, you'll notice how pasta dishes change as you travel from north to south. Unlike the UK, the north of Italy was traditionally the most prosperous part of the country, whereas the south was underdeveloped.

The result was that pasta in the north was made with eggs, while in the south, where they couldn't afford eggs, pasta was made with water.

It's a similar story with pesto. Southern Italians had to be a lot more frugal than the northerners, so they bulked out their pestos with lots more herbs and vegetables. It's not dissimilar to how some supermarkets use cheap ingredients to make their pestos in order to make the cost savings that consumers expect.

There's no set recipe for poor man's pesto. A bit like bouillabaisse, it's made from whatever is in abundance at the time of making. Herbs may include basil, rosemary, mint, marjoram, sage, and whatever else is close at hand. The final product is less heavy than traditional basil pesto from Liguria, but even more fragrant and exceptionally refreshing.