The genova-style basil pesto (pesto alla genovese). Pesto alla genovese was invented in Genova, an ancient port city in Liguria, and has added a fresh herbal twist to countless dishes since.
We love when the classic basil pesto is made with certified Ligurian ingredients according to time-honored traditions; however, it is deliciously simple to make it fresh at home.
In Genovese dialect, pestâ means “crush” or “grind.” Following tradition, we use a mortar and pestle to crush and grind our pesto by hand. Modern food processors or blenders will also do the trick, but avoid over mixing, which releases too much oil from the pine nuts and bruises the greens.
And remember, the key to pesto is tasting: our recipe offers more guidelines than strict proportions.
Pesto alla Genovese (Genova-Style Basil Pesto)
- 2 loosely-packed cups fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 clove garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- ½ cup Grana (Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano), finely grated, plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons Pecorino (Fiore Sardo, Pecorino Romano), finely grated, plus more to taste
- Fine sea salt, to taste
Place the garlic and a generous pinch of fine sea salt in a large mortar, and grind against the sides until crushed into a paste.
Add about a quarter of the basil leaves, and grind until broken down. Continue to add the basil a little at a time, breaking down all the leaves before adding more. Add the pine nuts, and grind until crushed.
Add about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, and grind until the pesto is creamy. Finally, add both cheeses, and grind until creamy and thoroughly combined.
Season with sea salt to taste, adding any other ingredients as needed.
Enjoy as fresh as possible! Serve with pasta (like trofie, which the Genovesi invented especially for pesto), spread over toasted bread for bruschetta, or simply scoop a spoonful.