Sunday, May 19 2024

Let us first start with the correct definition because on the market, under the label of pesto “alla” genovese, you often find everything: pesto prepared with the addition of ricotta cheese, cashews, seed oil and many other ingredients that have little, indeed nothing, to do with our sauce.

It is precisely that “Genoese-style” that should put you on your guard and lead you to read the product label well, because “alla” in this case means everything and nothing.

Only “PESTO GENOVESE” indicates the real recipe of traditional pesto with the 7 ingredients contemplated by the Consortium and guarantors of an ancient regional heritage, such as: Genoese Basil DOP, Extra virgin olive oil, possibly from the Ligurian Riviera, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (with Grana Padano variant) and Pecorino DOP (Fiore Sardo), Pine nuts, Garlic, Salt.





  • 2+ 1/2 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tbsp of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (or Grana Padano)
  • 2 tbsp of Pecorino DOP (Fiore Sardo or Pecorino Romano)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of pinenuts
  • coarse salt (a few grains)



To make true Pesto Genovese requires a marble mortar and a wooden pestle, lots of diligence and patience.

The earliest written recipe for Pesto that has come down to us dates back to the mid 1800s and has not changed since then, except for hasty profanations in the technique of execution.

First you have to wash the basil in cold water and then put it to dry on a tea towel, meanwhile in the mortar you have to pound one clove of garlic for every thirty basil leaves, the ritual also lies in the doses.

The garlic must be mild, it must not prevail while making itself felt in the background–in short, it cannot be missing!

Nor should the coarse salt be missing; add a few grains.

When the garlic and salt have reached the consistency of a cream it will be time to add the pine nuts, a handful.

The pine nuts, which will soften and blend the sauce, give it that gentle bouquet that counterbalances the garlic, are an extra, the artist’s touch.

At this point, but not all at once (they are precious commodities not just any herb), the basil leaves should be added and you begin with a gentle, prolonged rotary motion to pound them in the mortar.

Remember that basil’s essential oils are stored in the veins of its leaves and that to get the best flavor, one should not pound severely but rotate the pestle slightly so as to tear, not shear, the fragrant leaflets.

The sound of the pestle against the edges of the mortar will accompany our work.

Now it is time for the cheeses: parmigiano reggiano and pecorino sardo, both PDO, properly seasoned.

And finally the extra virgin olive oil, poured in drops.

At this point Pesto Genovese is ready and can be used to season pasta and can be added to give flavor to vegetable soup.

Should your Pesto be too “compact,” simply add pasta cooking water to thin it out when seasoning.

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