Pesto alla Genovese

August 17, 2018

Serves 4

  • about 100 g of basil leaves, the best leaves to use are the smaller ones which carry a more delicate and sweeter flavour
  • 30 g of pine nuts, gently toasted so they will not become bitter
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 40-60 g of grated parmesan or aged pecorino cheese (traditionally Pecorino Sardo is used but it can be hard to get outside Italy)
  • a pinch of sea salt (or more to taste)
  • about 80 ml of olive oil, the most suitable is Ligurian oil or any oil of a mild and delicate flavour

*one medium potato and a handful of green beans

*use a mortar and pestle, alternatively you can use a blender, but I personally avoid that.

The basil leaves with the contact of the heat generated by the engine, tend to loose their beautiful and so delicate flavour.

Start with grinding (using mortar and pestle) the garlic (initially you can add just one clove and taste, use the second one according to your preference) with the pine nuts and sea salt.

Once you get the consistency of a paste start adding the basil leaves, a few at a time. 

Now add the grated cheese and lastly the olive oil. Carry on pounding until you get a homogenous paste. Taste and add more salt to your liking.

If you are not using the pesto immediately, put it into a bowl and cover with a layer of olive oil, secure with cling film and place in the fridge. I personally don’t like keeping it in the fridge for more than one week and try to use it whilst still very fresh.

Pasta with pesto alla Genovese.

  • 320 g of pasta (for 4 people), I used spaghetti

*In Liguria, traditionally pasta with “pesto alla Genovese“ is served with boiled potatoes and green beans.

Boil peeled and cubed potato in a small amount of salted water. Drain and leave on the side.

In the water after boiling the cubed potato, blanch chopped green beans, drain and leave on the side.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

In the meantime in a separate pan warm up the vegetables with a couple of table spoons of the water used for boiling the pasta. Take the pan off the heat. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the vegetables, stir very well  and add as much pesto as you wish. Add some more reserved water after cooking the pasta to dilute the sauce if needed and stir vigorously. Make sure the sauce is well combined with the pasta, potato and green beans.

Serve while still warm.

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