If you think that the only possible Italian pesto is made with basil, you’re wrong. Sienese cuisine is enjoyed for the intense flavors gifted by herbs, such as tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus). In fact, in Siena you can find "pesto senese" made from "dragoncello", the Italian name for tarragon, which is usually picked and combined with pine nuts, olive oil and some butter. Tarragon pesto is usually used to dress pasta, especially pici, the local handmade spaghetti.
It is said that this herb was imported into Italy by Charlemagne in 774 and then grown in the garden of the Abbey of St. Antimo, near Montalcino. The fresh leaves have a pungent flavor, halfway between salt and pepper, a sort of flavor enhancer, so it’s useful for those who cannot eat salt for health reasons.
For this photo shoot we decided to visit Filippo Saporito and Ombretta Giovannini at La Leggenda dei Frati restaurant where you can find great regional dishes like this.