Genovese Pesto Recipe – Liguria

Genoa is the birthplace of Pesto:

Pesto from Cinque Terre Follow Me on Pinterest

Pesto from Cinque Terre

The Ligurian region is the birthplace of the Pesto sauce.  More precisely, it was in Genoa, on the north Ligurian coast, that Pesto originated.

Basil, a main ingredient of pesto sauce, grows well in the Ligurian temperate climate. Travelling around Liguria, you’ll see that this sauce is used extensively in dishes.

Traditionally, families would use a mortar and a pestle (hence the name) to make pesto. The grinding action of the pestle brings out the flavours of the various ingredients as well as allowing for a smoother pesto texture.

If you’ve got a mortar and pestle at home, you may like to try making the pesto in the traditional way at least once so you can discern the difference in flavours. I personally don’t like spending a lot of time in the kitchen and using a blender is much easier even though there is a difference in quality.

Genovese Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil – don’t use cheap olive oil as it’ll affect the flavour of your pesto
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Process:

  • Wash the basil in cold water and pat dry
  • Put basil, pine nuts, garlic and pinch of salt in the blender
  • Drizzle olive oil in the blender and process until creamy
  • Scoop blended pesto into a bowl or jar and stir in the grated cheeses

Note that ground basil oxidizes quickly turning into a dirty green color so use it immediately or store your pesto with a protective layer of olive oil.

Pesto is commonly used in pesto pasta dishes like Trofie al Pesto or Fettuccine di Pesto alla Genovese. It is quite a versatile sauce that can be served with potatoes and French beans as well. I like spooning it over a plate of sliced smoked mozzarella, avocado, tomatoes and basil leaves. Served with bread, this makes for a quick and delicious snack when friends drop in.

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