If you are Italian please do not read any further …. I’m pretty sure you were born instinctively knowing how to make Pesto Genovese. You were probably given a marble mortar and a wooden pestle before you could even walk and the multi-generational family recipe passed on to you from your Nonna or your Mama is ingrained on your brain like a tattoo. Consider yourself blessed. So just stop reading. Seriously.
Pesto Genovese aka Classic Pesto aka Traditional Pesto is awesome. Enough said. End of post. Buon appetito.
Just kidding. I have more to say.
Pesto Genovese is a deceptively simple sauce to make. Just throw some basil, pine nuts, cheese, salt, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor and BOOM! You’re done!
Errr…Not so fast.
There ARE some rules to follow. Yes, you read me right. There are rules when it comes to making Pesto Genovese, which if you live in the Western Hemisphere like myself, we have already failed at this sauce before even beginning due to the type of basil we have available to us. Pesto alla genovese is D.O.P.-protected, meaning that in order to be considered “true” Pesto Genovese it must be made in a specific way with specific ingredients. You can read more about D.O.P. protection on Wikipedia. We’re getting technical folks.
Here’s what you need in order to make this green gold. Find some D.O.P. basil from Genova. You might have to fly to the Italian region of Liguria for this, but who wouldn’t love a trip to Italy? Grab some pine nuts, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Pecorino cheese (specifically Fiore Sardo Pecorino), a couple garlic cloves from Vessalico (small town about 56 miles southwest of Genova…road trip!), pinch of salt, and while you’re at it be sure to get some D.O.P. olive oil from the Italian Riviera. This pesto could provide for a really lovely trip along the Mediterranean. And some really expensive pesto.
Since us normal folks aren’t typically able to go jet-setting each time we would like fresh pesto I think it’s time to break some Pesto Genovese rules. And if you’re Italian and still reading this, don’t tell your Nonna. My ingredients will be sourced from my local grocery store. And they won’t be D.O.P.
While a marble mortar and a wooden pestle are the “correct” method for making pesto, I’m taking the easy/fast route and using my revolutionary food processor. I really loooove my food processor. It makes the world of cooking easier and more fun in sooo many ways, homemade pesto being one of those. Thank you food processor. Yes, I talk to my kitchen appliances.
There are also rules regarding the order in which the ingredients should be incorporated. I typically stick to these rules. Sometimes sticking to the rules is worthwhile.
Begin by processing the garlic and pine nuts together.
Once the pine nuts and garlic are pulverized, add the basil and salt. Then add the cheese.
Finally, with motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream, processing until incorporated.
And just like that, you’re done! Easy peasy! In less than 5 minutes you’ve got an seriously tasty sauce for pizzas, grilled meats, an amazing sandwich spread, a garnish for soups and a mighty fine sauce for pastas like this Creamy Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes recipe. Yummm. Really the options for putting some pesto love into your food or on your snacks are almost endless.
You might even catch someone in your household eating it by the spoonful. Yes husband, I’m looking at you.Print
A simple and classic pesto recipe perfect for pasta, on a sandwich, as a pizza sauce, garnish for soups, or paired with grilled meats.
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 4 cups packed basil
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- 3 Tbsp Pecorino cheese, grated
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Pulverize the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.
- Add basil and pinch of salt. Pulse until finely minced.
- Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino.
- With food processor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream just until all ingredients are blended together.
- When storing, place in smallest airtight container possible and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. After each use, continue to cover the top with a little more olive oil to preserve herbs. Refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.
Pesto can be easily adapted to please your specific tastes. So if you prefer it to be nuttier, cheesier, or more garlicky just add a little more of that ingredient.
So what are you waiting for?! Whip up some homemade pesto genovese and let me know in the comments below what you’re eating it with! And if you happen to fly to the Italian Riviera to source your ingredients, please send me a postcard (or take me with you). Ciao amici!
Disclaimer: All brand recommendations are purely my own opinion. I am in no way sponsored by the brands mentioned or compensated by the brand for my recommendations. This post may also contain affiliate links which I may receive a small commission from (without any additional costs to you). The money earned from these commissions helps me to maintain this website. Thank you for your support!