I started using agave nectar in 2009 as an ingredient not only on my pizzas, but also in my house-made sausage and pesto. At that time, using agave nectar in cocktails became popular and my mixologist at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana experimented with new libations. That got me thinking about incorporating the ingredient in my pizzas.
Agave nectar is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of agave, including agave tequilana and agave salmiana. Most of it comes from Mexico. Agave syrup is sweeter than honey and it can be bought in different color varieties. Blue agave (harvested in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico) seems to be the most prevalent. Agaves are large, spiky plants that resemble a cactus, but they are actually succulents similar to aloe vera. They are quite difficult to harvest, so it’s definitely an ingredient that falls in line with the “Respect the Craft” mentality.
Watch Managing Editor and Food Stylist Mandy Detwiler make Tony’s Agave Basil Pesto in the Pizza Today Test Kitchen:
Here’s a recipe for agave basil pesto. Next month I’ll give you pizza recipe that utilizes this pesto.
Agave Basil Pesto
- 1 pound basil, destemmed
- 4 ounces grated Parmesan
- 2 whole cloves garlic
- 4 ounces shaved Parmigiano Reggiano (after you shave it, hand crush it)
- 4 ounces pine nuts
- 18 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-4 ounces agave nectar syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Blend basil with pine nuts, garlic and grated Parmesan in a blender.
- Gradually add in the agave syrup and olive oil as you go.
- Then add lemon juice, salt and pepper (to taste).
- Fold in the shaved, hand-crushed Parmigiano Reggiano and then place your pesto into a squirt bottle.