And that, is Pesto alla Genovese, the classic, traditional “condimento” from Liguria. 

I’m asked all the time if I can provide my pesto recipe, but the problem is, it’s more of a process that I tweak each time I make it than an actual “pen to paper” recipe.  Nevertheless, as it has been requested frequently, what follows is a traditional recipe.

What you’ll need:

I’m only a purist if it’s convenient! No mortar and pestle for me. You’ll need either a blender, or a food processor, otherwise you’re apt to need a good prescription to prevent tendonitis.

Ingredients & Procedure

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fine extra virgin olive oil
1 raw garlic clove
6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
6 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese
1 6oz. jar toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Toast nuts in frying pan for about 1 minute, until they begin to brown and then combine with the remaining ingredients in your food processor. Pulse all ingredients until they are finely chopped and combine to form a paste. (that’s what pesto means!)  The mixture will be very thick at this point.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with Saran wrap. This can be made up to 4 or 5 hours in advance and refrigerated.

Cook pasta until al dente.  Before draining, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Whisk this into your pesto to thin out the paste, combine with your pasta and serve. The Ligurians will also occasionally toss blanched green beans and/or boiled potatoes into the sauce to serve over the pasta.  Garnish with basil leaves and extra cheese.

Ci vediamo!

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