In Liguria when you say mortar and pestle (here you can read which characteristics these two very old kitchen tools should have), you say sauces and among them the most known is of course the basil pesto one!
But, in addition to the famous Genoese pesto sauce, we have learned, thanks to our slow food chef Giancarlo who loves to share his culinary secrets with our guests, to make other sauces which are great too! They can be used on bruschetta for aperitif, with pasta, with salads, meat, fish and more!
The traditional ligurian sauces made with mortar and pestle
Some of these sauces made with mortar and pestle are agliata, which is a sauce made of garlic. This is the oldest sauce and it was already used by the Genoese sailors in 1200 who were used to crush the garlic cloves in the mortar adding some bread soaked in the vinegar. The result was a great sauce which was used by the sailors to flavor, but also to disinfect the dried meat after many months of sailing away from home.
Today this sauce is great on bread, with fish or on meat!
Another sauce, which is also one of my favorite, is marò di fave: a sauce made of beans, mint, oil, garlic and vinegar. It is great on bread, with meat, codfish, but usually it is suggested to be made a little bit more liquid.
Other two great traditional sauces learned during our culinary lessons are the salsa di noci (walnut sauce) and the salsa di pinoli (pine nuts sauce). This last one is great with corzetti pasta, thin unique round coins of fresh pasta dough that get stamped out and embossed with a handmade artisanal tool called corzetti stamp.
The walnut sauce perfectly matches with pansoti pasta: a triangular pasta filled with herbs from the ligurian countryside and ricotta or the Genoese prescinseua cheese (not meat).
Using mortar and pestle produces sauces which have a more interesting texture than a food processor. The differences are evident and the result is better. I suggest to try them once in Liguria!