Four kinds of pesto put to the testo
Three shop-bought jars and a DIY option: which is the tastiest?
Genovese Foods Fresh Pesto
Sacla Organic Pesto
The Happy Pair Lovely Basil Pasta
GENOVESE FOODS FRESH PESTO
€4.49 for 180g, €24.94 per kg
We approached this jar of pesto with suspicion. The red and white cheese cloth-style lid and the bold claim of freshness on the jar had us convinced the company was trying to hoodwink us, as so many companies do. We were wrong. This tastes absolutely gorgeous and as fresh as if we had made it ourselves. The cheese and nuts are pleasingly prominent and the basil is a vibrant green. It is s made by a small company in Stoneybatter, Dublin 7, that clearly has a passion for what it does. The ingredients list features extra-virgin olive oil, hard cheese, pine nuts, basil, garlic, salt . . . and nothing else. If you’re a fan of pesto, buy this if you see it.
Star rating: ★★★★★
SACLA ORGANIC PESTO
€4.19 for 190g, €22.05 per kg
This comes all the way from Italy, so is arguably the most authentic of these four pestos. It is also organic which may or may not be important to you. This organic version is a good bit dearer than Sacla’s nonorganic option; almost €1 dearer, in fact. The ingredients list is long and contains things that were probably not fond in Mama’s kitchen in the old country, including potato flakes, fructose natural garlic flavouring and the like. It was also very salty.
Star rating: ★★
THE HAPPY PAIR LOVELY BASIL PASTA
€5 for 180g, €26.31 per kg
The Happy Pear twins have been relentless in cultivating their brand over recent years, with TV appearances, books and handstands in public places. The food is very good. This is lovely, made with olive oil, cashew nuts, basil, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, cider vinegar and salt. It has a lovely, subtle, zingy flavour, and the packaging is not wrong when it says it will go with “almost anything”.
Verdict: Close to the best.
Star rating: ★★★★
€13 for 300g, €43.33 per kg
Anything the Happy Pear can do, Pricewatch can do, we said to ourselves as we set about making pesto from scratch. We were wrong. This is one of those rare occasions when the DIY deal costs more than the store-bought options and will not necessarily taste nicer. About 100g of basil leaves cost us €4.36 in our local Tesco, the same quantity of pine nuts set us back €3.69 and 100g of Parmesan was €2.50. Allow 30 cent for the garlic and €2 for the high-end olive oil and the cost is coming close to €13. Then there is all the palaver involved in making the pesto. It tastes nice but we would rank our effort third out of four and the price is high.
Verdict: Too dear and too much hassle.
Star rating: ★★★