Prepared pasta sauce that tastes like the fresh stuff in Italy

Prepared pasta sauce that tastes like the fresh stuff in Italy

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Last July I arrived in Genoa, Italy with two friends from Wisconsin to spend two nights as part of our Italian summer adventure. Before our trip, we read about Pesto Genovese and vowed to order a dish that appears at almost every meal at the restaurant. Pesto is usually served with trophie pasta, which is dried, rod-shaped pasta. We also bought jars of this famous pesto from a shop one night after dinner, each jar costing around 10 euros.

Imagine my shock when I found a jar of this pesto at a TJ Maxx store back home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin…for $4. And this wasn’t even the clearance price. That was the full price for this megastore known more for its bedding and clothing than its selection of gourmet groceries (many of which are imported from other countries, including Italy).

What’s so great about Mariangela Pronotto Organic Basil Pesto?

As a port city in the Italian region of Liguria, what makes Genoese pesto — both the options we enjoyed in Italy and what is sold in the United States as Pesto Genovese — unique isn’t just the ingredients you use to make pesto (basil, Parmesan or pecorino Romano, and pine nuts). , garlic, and olive oil), but how to prepare it. In the US, I (and probably other home cooks) make pesto in a food processor. In Genoa, a mortar and pestle is used. The result is lighter on the cheese and heavier on the basil for a smooth, dark green pesto.

Another difference is the type of basil. Genovese DOP basil is local to Genoa and is a protected origin, much like the sparkling wines from Champagne, France. (And yes, we thought about searching for some of those genetic basil seeds and either planting them at our friend’s house in the Piedmont or back home in Wisconsin. According to some gardening experts, you can do it. But I’m pretty sure the soil is between the two continents – and even within Italy, which is known for its (Multi-local – different. We also never found those seeds in Genoa.)

What is the best way to use organic basil pesto Mariangela Pronotto?

With the pesto I bought in Italy, I decided to make it as “raw” and natural as possible, by spreading it on crusty baguettes and crackers until I could lick the jar clean. With the TJ Maxx jar, I used it as a cooking ingredient instead, stirring it into boiled pasta with the last of the chunky tomato sauce made from tomatoes grown in our backyard, along with French fries. It was delicious, with more of the pesto flavor in the background. I was also happy to find that Trader Joe’s recently started carrying souvenir pasta. Now, when I want to go back to Italy, I know exactly what to make in my kitchen!

I’m relieved that I no longer have to travel 10 hours across the Atlantic to get jars of this pesto. Alternatively, I can add TJ Maxx to my weekend to-do list and have it within the hour – provided it’s in stock. One thing about these overstock stores is that the selection is changing. But living in a big city like me, I have six TJ Maxx stores to visit, which is still faster than traveling to Europe.

Find it in stores: Mariangela Pronotto Organic Basil Pesto, $3.99 for 4.5 ounces at TJ Maxx

What hidden grocery gems do you buy at TJ Maxx? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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