Italian Sauce


Pesto Genovese: king of sauces, symbol and pride of Genoa, of Liguria and, looking to the rest of the world, also of Italian cuisine.

Some prefer it garlicky, some without garlic (but lose the right to call it pesto), some like it more “cheesy,” some more delicate, some make it grainier, some creamier.

There is only one rule, peremptory: use the 7 magic ingredients.



Ingredients to season 500 grams (17 oz) pasta (5-6 people)

  • 3 cups of fresh and dry basil leaves
  • 6 tbsp of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp of grated Pecorino cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt



Clean the basil leaves by gently wiping a damp cloth without wrinkling them.

Remove any leaves that are damaged or have dark veins so as not to affect the flavor and color of the sauce.

Place a pinch of coarse salt and the garlic cloves in the mortar (you can buy one on Amazon ) and with the pestle begin working in a rotary motion until creamy.

Add the pine nuts and process again until you reach a creamy mixture.

It’s time to start processing the basil leaves; add a few grains of salt, the leaves a few at a time and, again with rotary motions from left to right, crush the leaves using also the walls of the mortar that you will have to rotate simultaneously in the opposite direction (from right to left).

It will take patience, but at the same time also some speed because the broken leaves in contact with the air quickly oxidize making the pesto dark in color and herbaceous in taste.

When you have finished pounding the leaves and the mixture is well blended, finish the pesto by adding the cheeses, alternating them with the oil poured in a trickle.

Continue pounding until all the oil is incorporated and you have a smooth-looking sauce.

Your Genovese pesto is ready to use right away!

How to prepare it with a blender

If you don’t want to try your hand with a mortar and pestle, you can prepare pesto with a blender by taking a few steps to keep it from oxidizing and darkening.

For this purpose it is useful to refrigerate the oil and the blender bowl with the blades for at least a couple of hours before starting.

Also, while processing, run the machine at the lowest speed a few seconds at a time.

Prepare the basil leaves clean and dry without spoiling them.

Combine the garlic cleaned of its skin and chopped with the pine nuts in the blender and blend for a few seconds.

Then add a pinch of coarse salt, half the basil and blend with a drizzle of oil.

Add the rest of the basil and blend a few more seconds.

Finally add the pine nuts, grated cheese and another drizzle of oil and run the machine intermittently until smooth.

Transfer the pesto to a bowl and incorporate the oil little by little until it reaches the right consistency.


How to eat it

Pesto also fears heat when you serve it, so the basic rule of thumb for using pesto is never to heat it!

To preserve flavor and color it should be used cold, possibly diluted with a little pasta cooking water if it is too thick.

The pasta formats traditionally used are trofie and trenette, but it is also excellent for dressing gnocchi and testaroli, baked lasagna, ravioli, or grain cereals such as barley and spelt.

Add it raw to the dish to enrich a soup or minestrone.

It also goes well with fish such as cod, salmon, and sea bream.

You can add flavor to a caprese, season boiled potatoes or grilled vegetables, on top of a pizza, inside a piadina, to make bruschetta, omelets — and whatever else your imagination suggests.


How to store it

Pesto should be made and consumed fresh.

However, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days, using sterilized glass jars and covering with a drizzle of oil to reduce air contact as much as possible.

For those who want to have it always ready, you can freeze it, taking care to prepare it without the cheese that will be added at the time of use. Use the appropriate ice mold or small glass jars.


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