Creative pestos are so in right now and we think they are new variants off one “real” pesto recipe. But the truth is there are hundreds of traditional pesto recipes in Italy alone. Pesto Bianco is one of them, made of walnuts, olive oil and ricotta. Inspired by the movie I Am Love, I added a touch of Elderflower flower syrup to mine.
It’s Food ‘n Flix time again! In this monthly group a host picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by me, here is my announcement post, and I picked an Italian movie called I Am Love. I found my inspiration in the vast palate of Italian dishes, pesto, with a touch of a flower syrup mentioned in the movie, which I just purchased on my trip to Austria. I give you Pesto Bianco with Elderflower.
The film I am Love has been on my bucket list for some time. I only watched this movie after choosing it as my ‘host’ selection. Not so sure I would have made that choice if I had seen the movie prior. But hey we are here to explore movies and foods outside of our usual repertoire. I am part of the tiny group of people who did like the movie this month. But it is really not a film for everyone. It’s more of an art piece, the pace is very slow and languid. It is in Italian (with a peppering of Russian and English) and it is filmed with a nostalgic 70s Italian style (unique in itself). The movie triumphs in its subtleness. Two things I believe everyone did agree upon: the magnificent cinematography and the endless amount of gorgeous food.
Most of the movie takes place around food: a family party, lunches between friends, an intimate meal prepared by lovers, even discussions of meal themes for planned formal parties. All the dinner table settings were amazing! The first scene after the credits is the preparation of a birthday party for the patriarch of the family. I will not mention the whole cast, just 2 major characters: Emma (played by Tilda Swinton), the Russian wife forced into the role of being a good Italian aristocrat’s wife, and her son Edo. At the end of the evening Antonio, a chef and friend of Edo, drops by with a birthday cake.
Emma is unhappy and finds herself in the arms of Antonio after a series of events. Their lovemaking scene was one of the most intense sexual scenes I have watched in awhile but it was all played on sensuality. Will the family find out about the affair, and if so what will be the consequences? It is a tragic ending, watch the movie to find out what happens.
Three food moments stick out for me. Antonio serves Edo a lunch and says about his farm “the sense of flavors, as simple as this place” as he speaks of his country home and its gardens, I was really moved by this quote. Next is when Emma tastes the prawns with ratatouille with a sweet and sour sauce at Antonio’s restaurant. She is completely moved and unhinged, left glowing. It’s a pivotal point in the story. And finally the Russian ukha fish soup which is a recurring character in itself, and initiates the end of the story.
Here is everything I have noted foodwise in the film and I am sure I missed some: orange juice and coffee, lots of wines, saffron, champagne, salads, the Russian ukha dish soup, pomegranate center table, a pyramid dessert, birthday cake, eggplant and elderflower essence, verrines, torched russian salad, leghorn-style cod with red mousse spread, marinated egg yolk-pea cream and zuchinni flowers, prawns with ratatouille with a sweet and sour sauce, mixed fish with crunchy homegrown vegetables, risotto, spelt soup, canteen meal in textile plant, chinotto drink, raspberries, and macarons.
Pesto Bianco with Elderflower
My Pesto Bianco dish inspiration is 2 fold:
- I was inspired by the lunch plating by Antonio to Edo of eggplant and elderflower essence. In Austria elderflower and elderberry is HUGE so I brought back some syrup from my trip. I could not find the eggplant recipe but I really wanted to use my elderflower syrup.
- Ligurian dishes are suggested as a menu theme for a party. My friend Michele, whom I met up with in Budapest on this trip, had just been to Cinque Terre which is in Liguria (a north-western coastal region in Italy). This part of Italy gave birth to Pesto alla Genovese, the most common pesto. But did you know there are over 70 different pestos just in Luguria? One of them is called pesto bianco, a white pesto that I believed could work with the elderflower. The mountain flower gives it a more northern Italy flair to the recipe.
Pesto bianco is a puree made of walnuts, olive oil and ricotta. Usually lots of fried garlic and Parmesan is added to Pesto Bianco. My Pesto Bianco would be more delicate and sweeter so I omitted this part. Instead I added the elderflower syrup and a touch of a Viennese wild garlic salt acquired from a very special shop in Vienna (will tell you about it in my trip post).
A flower syrup and garlic? I know that sounds weird but I went with a light hand in both cases and it totally worked. It’s a subtle pesto to start with – kind of like the film – and those two flavors added a new dimension. No pasta here, I served my Pesto Bianco on a mountain of spiralized carrots. The natural sweetness of the carrots married well with the elderflower syrup.
Pesto Bianco with Elderflower
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 15 fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 2 tablespoons elderflower syrup
- garlic salt & pepper to taste
- carrots shredded or spiralized
- Toast walnuts in the oven until fragrant, cool and chop roughly.
- Puree in a food processor with olive oil, mint, ricotta, lemon rind and elderflower syrup, until pesto is somewhat smooth. Add garlic salt ( I added 2 small pinches) and pepper to taste.
- Set pesto aside so the flavors can develop. Spoon over carrots, toss and enjoy.
I’ve neither seen nor eaten a white pesto. Thanks for broadening my knowledge—I have a feeling I’d be an instant fan!
Thank Liz I am sure you will love itm lots of version out there too.
I’ve never heard of this movie. Need to check it out. Any movie that takes place around food gets my vote. 🙂 Have never heard of Pesto Bianco nor elderberry syrup. Love being turned on to new things and you’ve done that. Very interesting looking pesto with some very unique flavors. Love it!
MJ I hope you will be on the ‘like’ team for this movie 🙂 This pesto was new to me as well, elderflower I knew I would find on the trip but no you don’t find it in N America. But I am sure some European specialty shops could have some for you.
What a unique pesto and it sounds super tasty!
Thanks Amy 🙂
I love the look of this pesto! Sounds deliciously tasty 😉
Thanks Cathleen, hope you give it a try it is delicious!
I went nuts at the end of Summer and turned all my basil into containers of pesto, has been such a delight to eat during the cold and miserable winter. But honestly, I would never have thought to make other kinds of pesto, this sounds amazing. Will be sure to give it a whirl! 🙂
Oh for sure pesto in colder months brings in a ray of sunshine 🙂 Hope you like this one if you try!
I’ve never seen that film before, but I definitely want to now.
I love foreign films, especially set around food. I feel that food plays an important part in people’s every day lives and they don’t even see it.
I love this dish as well!
I love pesto, so I’m going to have to try this very soon!
I am so glad you want to see the movie, other would flee from it lol. So agree with the importance food has in our life!
Love it! The pesto looks delicious, what an interesting combination of flavours. I too have to admit that I have never tried anything with elderflower – must correct that! And I also think Tilda Swinton is amazing.
Thank you Elissa! Oh you must try elderflower, it is so good. And Tilda rocks 🙂
Great recipe Evelyne, I haven’t heard of using Elderflower in pesto before sounds like a wonderful combo. Nice movie recommendation too, will check it out!
Thanks Prateek, it is an unusual mix but hey got to try and it’s lovely. Oh I hope you check out the movie, just as unusual lol.
Wow this looks delicious! I’m new to pesto so I definitely want to try this recipe!
Thanks Anna, if you are new to pesto you will really have a wide variety off the bat with this one. There are so many and all good 🙂
Yeah, sounds unusual but creative, it looks delicious. 🙂
Thanks Eloise 🙂
There really is just something about Tilda Swinton that is mesmerizing. And I’m incredibly intrigued by this pesto. I may be the only person who has never tried elderflower anything…one of these days I’ll get my hands on some form!
She is awesome, I agree. And glad you like the recipe, get your hands on some elderflower gurl! 😉
I will be in Liguria in a few months time so will look out for this pesto which I’ve never seen in Italy before ?
Oh wow lucky you Tandy, that will be an amazing trip!
Oh Evelyne, what a nice pesto sauce, and yes, I love the idea of a hint of elderflower syrup…a delicate touch…very creative!
Hope you are having a fabulous week 🙂
Thank you Juliana, I am very happy with the elderflower touch. have a great wkd!
What a creative and fun pesto recipe! Definitely give this a try!
Thanks Angie I am sure you will adore it!
Ooh I’m really intrigued by the sound of this film. I do love that vintagey look and hey if the food looks amazing that’s a definite plus! 😀
I am sure you would liek the film Lorraine, just expecta slow pace lol
Thanks so much for hosting this month Evelyne. I love the fact that this group takes me out of my rut and forces me to watch films that I normally wouldn’t. There was certainly tons of food inspiration in this gorgeous movie.
My pleasure Wendy and thanks for participating! Food was ceratinly not missing either way 🙂
Evelyne–I LOVE IT! And the fact that we were ‘inspiration twins’ with the Ligurian and elderflower but came up with such different dishes. I actually looked at pestos and updating the Pesto alla Genovese before getting fully into the tomato creme and ratatouille angle, but your Pesto Bianco is so much more creative and I just want to lick that creamy sauce up. A pile of spiralized carrots is my jam too! 😉 When I was toying with adding the elderflower liqueur to the creme sauce, I worried too about the flower and sweetness but was really excited at how well it worked. I am definitely going to try your pesto with more of my giant bottle!
Thanks again for hosting and I love that you were posting at the wire too. Makes me feel better! 😉
Why thank you fellow ‘inspiration twin’ 🙂 That is too funny you came close to doing a pesto too. And yes got to balance that sweetness, plus I was adding a touch of garlic. I will definitely have to give your recipe a go too, really wanted to play with eggplant and elderflower and your dish turned out so great. Thank you for participating Deb.
Indeed. They are varieties of traditional pesto recipes. Your version is looking oh-so-yummy!
Thanks Nagi, it is an unusual and very taste pesto version indeed 🙂