Foodie Friday brings one of summer’s great dishes: pesto.
When you hear the word you think of a mixture of basil, pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil, and there is no better time of the year than late summer for basil. Of course, what I’ve just described is the traditional pesto alla Genovese, named after Genoa where it originated. The word itself comes from the local dialect’s word for “pound” which is what one must have done to make the sauce before the advent of blenders and food processors.
The term refers to a method, not an ingredient. The French adopted it, called it pistou, and omitted the nuts since there aren’t a lot of pine trees around. Cheese is optional as well. Yet most people think of pesto in just one, very traditional way. I had my mind semi-blown the other day when I made a batch of scallion pesto. No basil, just a bunch of scallions thrown in the food processor with the other traditional ingredients. While I was expecting a sharp hit of flavor, this was a mild, wonderful sauce I smeared on chicken and baked. Since good scallions are available year round and basil can be expensive outside of summer, it’s a great alternative. Which is, of course, our business point today.
We make too many assumptions and don’t focus on alternatives. When you shift pesto’s paradigm from specific sauce to method it opens up a world of possibilities. Different greens, different oils, maybe different cheese. We tend to get too focused on a specific recipe or outcome and forget that we have options that may produce better results, even if they are unfamiliar.
As business people we need to entertain every ingredient and see what happens. Not being afraid to fail is a key to success. I thought scallion pesto was a really weird and potentially bad idea. It’s now going to be a staple. What kind of pesto will you make?