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[pes-toh] /ˈpɛs toʊ/
noun, Italian Cookery.
a sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated Parmesan blended together and served hot or cold over pasta, fish, or meat.
Origin of pesto
Genoese dialect
1935-40; < Upper Italian (compare Genoese dialect pésto pesto), Italian: noun derivative of pestare to pound, crush; see piste, pestle Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pesto
  • Squeeze balsamic extraction around pesto sauce poured in center of plate.
  • Toss arugula with salt and pepper and pile atop pesto.
  • No salt needed because the ham may be salty and the pesto has some in it, too.
  • Try the jumbo-sized shrimp for an appetizer and the redfish entree with pesto.
  • Several vegetarian plates are available, including fresh pesto pasta or three-cheese ravioli.
  • Specialty pizzas include the taco and pesto supreme pies.
  • House specialties include fish prepared in cream, pesto or wine sauces as well as several pasta dishes.
  • House specials include the osman pasha combo--a platter of kabob, pesto noodles and falafel.
  • Popular specialties include the cilantro pesto pizza, nachos and the fresh raspberry tart.
  • House specialties include pasta with pesto sauce, tomato-cream sauce and a vegetable pasta.
British Dictionary definitions for pesto


a sauce for pasta, consisting of basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, oil, and Parmesan cheese, all crushed together
Word Origin
Italian, shortened form of pestato, past participle of pestare to pound, crush
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pesto

olive oil-based pasta sauce, 1937, from Italian pesto, contracted form of pestato, past participle of pestare "to pound, to crush," in reference to the crushed herbs and garlic in it, from Latin root of pestle.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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