Sauces and Jams: Almond Pesto with Italian Patchanka Music

pesto sandwich

Mmmm… Pesto, tomato and mozzarella cheese sandwich.

For years, I thought I hated pesto. I tried to give it a few shots, after all, pesto is always on my favorite carbs– pesto on a pizza, pesto on some pasta, pesto on a sandwich, etc. My taste buds simply weren’t having it. Then, I reached a day of enlightenment: it’s the pine nuts that aren’t meshing with my palate. A restaurant had different pesto options, having me choose between pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. When I finally had pesto made with almonds, I finally understood why people love putting this condiment on everything!

The Grooves

While I tried to come up with a playlist for this post, I realized that I don’t know much about Italian music. The little musical trivia I did know started and ended with “isn’t opera Italian?” So, for better or for worse, I skimmed over this wikipedia page on Italian contemporary music. I visited Italy with my family back in 2010, so I had the tourist-version of the country’s history: Italy was unified in the 1860s but each region still had a very distinct identity. But the meaning of that statement doesn’t really sink in when I was flying around the back seat of a cab and trying to snap pictures of the Colosseum. Also, my high school world history class told me that Facism was bad. But my 15 year old self missed the connection that fascism pushed toward a national identity, which meant losing much of the traditional music of the various regions. (Google helped me find a research paper on the relationship of fascism and music, should you be so inclined to study up on the topic.)

Jump from this history lesson to modern day, and it turns out some artists are creating a genre called Patchanka. And it sounds kind of awesome! It mixes traditional music with punk, ska, reggae, and funk.

The Grub

Traditional pesto with pine nuts has a history Madre's herb plantsstarting in Liguria, Italy. However, it looks like there are different forms of pesto across Italy— pesto de noce (walnut pesto) is big in Northern Italy, while pesto rosso (sundried tomato pesto) is big in Sicily. Now that I see there are different varieties of pesto, I don’t feel so bad deviating from traditional pine nuts.

My mom has quite the little herb garden going. She trimmed a few bunches of basil and kindly allowed me to use most of it to make a batch of almond pesto. The nice thing about pesto is that there are no hard and fast measurements… just do what you feel like doing. That being said, the majority of the final product will most likely be basil.
Almond Pesto Ingredients


  • 1 bunch of basil (I used about 3 oz.)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup almonds (I used toasted almonds)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt


  1. Put all ingredients into a blender/food processor.
  2. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
  3. Enjoy!

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