Authentic Italian basil pesto recipe
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An authentic Genovese pesto. It's straight from Italy and you won't find a better recipe! This calls for a spoonful of Pecorino cheese, but you could also use all Parmesan in a pinch.
14 people made this
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 80g basil - rinsed, dried and leaves torn from stems
- 40g grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 10g grated Pecorino Sardo or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
MethodPrep:20min ›Ready in:20min
- Crush the garlic using a mortar and pestle. Add the pine nuts and crush with the garlic. Gradually add the basil leaves, working into a smooth paste using circular movements with the pestle.
- Mix in the cheese using a wooden spoon, then stir in the oil till combined.
If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can also use a food processor or blender. Chill the blade and container in the fridge for 1 hour and then process in pulses to avoid heating the pesto mixture. Add the basil, pine nuts and garlic in thirds, then follow with the cheese and oil as above.
To store in fridge for up to 1 month: place pesto in a jar, cover with olive oil and top with a lid.
Authentic Italian basil pesto
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(19)
Reviews in English (3)
Just made it to taste, didn't even measure anything. Pesto is SUPER easy to make and delicious. Added to spaghetti noodles and some blackened chicken to make an awesome pasta dinner. Everyone had seconds (some had a THIRD plate.)-14 Dec 2018
by Fawn Avant
Very good pesto. I have so much basil in my garden I will have to make at least 25 more batches before it's over. I did add a small amount of spinach to add a little more color and it was really tasty. Everyone loved it at work.-23 Sep 2018
Delicious! LOVED the combo of the Parmesan and Romano. I used my food processor for this. One of my favorite ways to use fresh basil from the garden. A keeper, for sure~YUM!!!! Thanks for sharing.-12 Sep 2017
How to Make Italian Basil Pesto
If you are looking for the original recipe for homemade Italian basil pesto, keep reading because in this article we will explain everything: the recipe made according to tradition and officially deposited plus all the tips to prepare a tasty and fragrant basil pesto, ideal for summer recipes and consume all year round.
The recipe for homemade pesto is notoriously one of the most tormented, together with carbonara pasta: from the use of ingredients that are not appropriate to techniques that necessarily undermine the quality and flavor, this typical Ligurian recipe is usually mistreated.
Making the pesto, in fact, seems simple but in reality, if you do not respect the right doses and above all, if you do not pay attention to the order in which the ingredients are mixed, and obviously to the quality of the ingredients themselves, the result is everything but pleasant.
Genoa is the capital of Liguria, Italy. Pesto’s traditional ingredients reflect its purely northern Italian origins: garlic (a staple of Ligurian cuisine), European pine nuts, coarse or sea salt (Genoa is a port city), extra virgin olive oil from the Ligurian Riviera and hard Italian cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano and Pecorino Fiore Sardo (made from sheep’s milk). Basil, the main ingredient by which this sauce is known today, is a relative newcomer to Genoan cuisine. It made its way to the city sometime during the 1800’s. However it’s been a staple ingredient ever since.
An important note: When you’re making a traditional Italian dish, source your ingredients carefully. One thing to look for is “DOP” on labels and other packaging. This stands for Denominazione d’Origine Protetta, or “Protected Designation of Origin.” Which means that jar of pine nuts or that wedge of Grana Padano is indeed from Italy. Sourcing these ingredients means you’ll be supporting Italian-owned businesses, and also that your food will taste as traditional as possible.
Lasagne al Pesto
Lasagne al Pesto (Lasagne with basil Pesto) is an original and easy recipe based on layers of egg pasta sheets (Lasagne), with the addition of béchamel and Genovese Pesto. It’s a really tasty dish, ideal for any occasion and it’ also known as Lasagne alla Portofino (the beautiful village on the Ligurian coast!).
Layers of basil Pesto, potatoes, green beans and pine nuts, alternate in this irresistible dish, very easy and quick to prepare, even a day before. Just heat it in the oven a few minutes before serving.
- Garlic: 1/2 clove
- Cooking Salt: 2 pinch
- Extra Vergin Olive Oil: 200 g
- Basil: 100 g
- Pecorino cheese: 60 g
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese: 140 g
- Pine Nuts: 30 g
- Butter: 100g
- Flour: 100g (“00” flour)
- Salt: 1 pinch
- Whole Milk: 1 liter
- Nutmeg to grate to taste
- Parmigiano Reggiano greated: 80g
- Boiled Potatoes: 3 medium size
- Boiled Green Beans: 200g
Nutrients in a portion
Step by step method
Start to prepare Pesto alla Genovese. You must first specify that the basil leaves are not washed, but cleaned with a soft cloth moreover you will have to make sure that it is Ligurian or Genoese basil, with narrow leaves (and not the southern one with thick leaves, which often has a mint aroma). Start preparing the pesto by placing the peeled garlic in a mortar together with a few grains of coarse salt. Start pounding and, when the garlic is reduced to cream, add the basil leaves together with a pinch of coarse salt, which will serve to break up the fibers better and to maintain a beautiful bright green color. Then crush the basil against the walls of the mortar by turning the pestle from left to right and at the same time rotate the mortar in the opposite direction (from right to left), taking it by the "ears", or the 4 rounded protrusions that characterize the mortar itself. Continue like this until a bright green liquid comes out of the basil leaves at this point add the pine nuts and start pounding again to reduce to cream. Add the cheeses a little at a time, stirring constantly, to make the sauce even creamier, and finally the extra virgin olive oil which must be poured flush, always mixing with the pestle. Mix the ingredients well until you obtain a homogeneous sauce.
In the meantime boil the potatoes and the green beens, drain them and set aside.
Prepare the dough: knead the ingredients by hand or with the planetary until you get a homogeneous paste, smooth and elastic, which you will put inside a well closed plastic food bag. Let it stand for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface to a thickness that is not too thin and, with a sharp kitchen knife or a cutter wheel, make some rectangles that should have a size just below those of the pan. Place a large saucepan full of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add salt and add a little oil. Then boil a rectangle of pasta at a time, turning it, when it will rise to the surface transfer it, helping with a slotted spoon, in the bowl with cold water, drain it and pat it well with a cloth.
Spread a layer of béchamel on the bottom (you can find the recipe in the Tips&Variation). Lay a layer of egg pasta in the pan. Cover it with a layer of pesto and a handful of pine nuts.
Continue with peeled and coarsely crumbled potatoes, along with some green beans. Ultimate with a generous handful of Parmesan and a layer of béchamel. Start again with a new layer of pasta, then pesto, pine nuts, potatoes, green beans, parmesan and béchamel. Up to fill the pan. Close with a last layer of pasta covered with pesto, béchamel, pine nuts and Parmesan.
Cook on a medium level of the preheated static oven at 200 ° for about 30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on the surface of the lasagna.
Remove from the oven and let your pesto lasagne rest for about ten minutes before serving.
Tips & variations
Lasagne al pesto can be kept in the fridge covered with foil for up to 1-2 days.
You can freeze both raw and cooked if you have used fresh ingredients.
To prepare the Béchamel Sauce heat the milk in a saucepan (the milk must be fresh and whole) Separately, melt the 100 g of butter over low heat, then turn off the heat and add the 100 g of flour all at once, stirring with a whisk to avoid the formation of lumps. Then put back on the soft heat and stir until it becomes golden. In this way you will have obtained what the French call roux Flavor the milk with the nutmeg and a pinch of salt (you can also do these operations as a last step, when the béchamel is ready) pour a little hot milk on the roux to soften the bottom, then add the rest, stirring vigorously with the whisk. Cook 5-6 minutes on low heat until the sauce has thickened and starts to boil. With this recipe you will get a medium density if you want a more liquid béchamel sauce you have to reduce the dose of butter and flour for a thicker béchamel sauce, on the other hand, increase the dose of butter and flour. For the lasagna we suggest you not to ticken too much because it will ticken in the oven.
Giada's Classic Pesto
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus m ore to taste
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Tried this recipe? Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!
The most basic, most traditional pesto is this basil-based one that was invented in Genoa, in northern Italy it’s bright green and wonderfully aromatic. Be sure to add your oil slowly, so that the sauce fully emulsifies – that is, all the ingredients bind together, creating a thick, uniform consistency.
Lots of basil varieties are available, some sweeter, some spicier, and in fact basil is an important ingredient in the cooking of southeast Asia, especially in curries. Each variety will impart its unique flavor to a pesto, so be adventurous, and try whatever type appeals to you. Just remember: you need a lot of it, and it should be fresh and crisp, not wilted or soggy.
The secret to making pesto into a great pasta dressing is to get the sauce to the right consistency. Fresh from the food processor, pestos are usually too thick to coat pastas you’ll just end up with mounds of the sauce amid a lot of undressed noodles. You need to mix in just enough of the pasta cooking liquid to coat the pasta, but not so much that you’ve created pesto soup.
How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother
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Del Pesto may be located in Jupiter, FL but these flavors and recipes are straight from Italy and New York. Family owned and operated, Del Pesto comes from a long time linage of Italian restaurant owners from New York and they are now ready to serve you in Jupiter, Florida.
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Basil pesto is a creamy sauce that belongs to the Italian culinary traditions and in particular, it originates in Genoa, the capital of Liguria’s region.
This delicious green paste is a versatile sauce good for many recipes besides the classic pasta with pesto. In fact, you can use it as a pizza topping, marinade for oven-baked fish, dressing for salads, filling for pastry pies and vegetarian lasagna. Pesto is also great for dipping or spooned in soups, couscous, and frittata 🤩 .
If you want to know how to make fresh Italian basil pesto, follow our easy step-by-step recipe. In no time you’ll have a homemade pesto cream sauce which is so much better than the store-bought one in taste, quality, and freshness.
The quality of the pesto ingredients is the secret for a perfect sauce. In fact, make sure you use only the freshest basil leaves, which should be dry and not broken. Then, the oil must be extra virgin olive oil, possibly a sweet one to balance the tangy garlic. Finally, use only well-matured parmesan and pecorino cheese and fresh pine nuts, not the roasted ones.
One of the challenges of making the perfect pesto is to keep the pesto from turning brown. This happens when the leaves are exposed to the air for too long which causes them to oxidize giving you a bitter and dark sauce.
But don’t worry! We are here to help you with these essential tips for a bright green pesto sauce:
Work the ingredients as fast as possible.
Add a pinch of coarse salt.
Use a mortar and pestle and not a food processor.
To store your basil pesto, keep it in an airtight container for up to three days or freeze it in small pots. It comes really handy to have a stock of this sauce ready for any recipe 🤙 .
Don’t know pesto. Don’t know Italy
God gives the nuts – but he does not crack them.
There is no doubt, it is the most loved raw sauce in the world, like mayonnaise or aioli. It is an ageless benchmark and a contemporary symbol of the Italian spirit around the world. Frank Sinatra just adored it, and for his 75 th birthday he signed a line of Italian products in New York featuring pesto, carrying his photo on the label.
Pesto comes from the use of spicy-smelling herbs, a tradition that originated in the Middle Ages. The name of this sauce made Liguria province famous in the world, comes from the original preparation way: pounding basil leaves and other ingredients in traditional murta marble bowl with pestellu wood. In fact, the Mediterranean Riviera region has always been home and cradle for different herbs (as you may remember, La Spezia owes its name to the ancient spice trade which has been located over the area). Adding herbs to basic meals has a medieval origin and was mainly used to flavour dishes or to enrich boring daily diet.
Thus, the current recipe of classical pesto had changed several times over the centuries. It appears to originate from the Roman spreadable cheese Moretum, a mixture of fresh cheese, olive oil, herbs, salt, and vinegar, mashed together in a mortar until consistent.
During the Middle Ages, Genoan garnished their meals with a famous sauce called agliata, that was mostly a mix of garlic slices and crushed walnuts, as garlic was an important ingredient in Ligurians cuisine. For instance, it was widely used for cooked food preservation, as well as a medicine, mostly by sailors during their long sea voyages. These trips have made this sauce known in many countries, including La Boca in Buenos Aires and the seaside cities in the United States.
The original pesto recipe dates back to the second half of the 19 th century. The first chef, mentioned the contemporary version of pesto in 1870, was Giovanni Battista Ratto. This recipe, published in Cucina Genovese, has been lightly contrasting with the present-day formula. Thus, walnuts were the substitution for pine nuts. Basil was the first choice, but marjoram or parsley were also considered as decent choices when basil was lacking. Instead of Pecorino, Ratto recommended famous Dutch cheese, pretty accessible in all Italian port cities that years. And as the final important key, butter added to create a creamy texture along with garlic and pine nuts before adding Basil leaves.
Nova days there are a lot of versions with wast number of ingredients, but real authentic Ligurian pesto can still be tasted in the furthest corners of Liguria cities. In general, it is said that in Liguria is very difficult to find two identical versions of pesto, because of many variations, sometimes within even the same family. Adding different walnuts, ricotta or other homemade cheeses may dramatically change the formula. It is also depending on the season, pasta type serving, or even the chef’s mood. Actually, such an attitude is quite known for many Italian meals. In Italian cooking, recipe modifications demonstrate the prosperity of gastro-diversity.
In 1965, the great gastronomist Massimo Alberini, in his book I Liguri a Tavola. Itinerario gastronomico da Nizza a Lerici (The Ligurians at the table, a Gastronomic Itinerary from Nice to Lerici) highlighted the role of olive oil in the recipe of pesto: it should neither be too fruity and sweet nor too bitter. And, Ligurian green extra-virgin olive oils are absolutely perfect accordingly.
Just as Genovese basil leaves, extra-virgin olive oil of Riviera Ligure has collected the DOP mark, granted by the European Union, in recognition of its quality and value. Furthermore, to produce pesto that terroir aspect is critical for, the following strict ingredients must be used:
- fresh garlic from Vessalico in the Province of Imperia, with a delicate flavour and particular digestibility
- Italian pine nuts
- the coarse salt from Cervia salt caves.
It is obvious that outside Italy it is not always possible to find all these aboriginal ingredients. For example, the production of Italian pine nuts has distinctly dropped in recent years due to parasitic invasion.
Pesto alla genovese
Basil leaves: 25 g
Extra virgin olive oil: 50 ml
Parmigiano cheese for grating: 35 g
Pecorino cheese for grating: 15 g
Pine nuts: 8 g
½ Garlic clove
Salt: 1 pinch
First of all, to prepare pesto alla Genovese (here, alla means that you do not follow all of DOP rules) you must remember, that basil leaves should not be washed, but rather cleaned with a soft cloth. Start preparing pesto by placing peeled garlic into a stone mortar with a few grains of salt. Begin to pound and, when the garlic is reduced to a creamy paste, add basil leaves along with a pinch of salt (salt is used to crush fibres and maintain bright green color).
Crush basil against the walls of mortar, turning the pestle clockwise and rotating the mortar in the opposite direction. Keep it up until basil leaves will turn to green shiny liquid. At this point add pine nuts and start to pound for paste. Add slowly both cheeses, stirring continuously, to make it even more creamy, and at the end add an extra virgin olive oil, stirring constantly with the pestle. Mix well all ingredients until you get a smooth sauce.
Nowadays, a lot of people use a blender instead of a pestle, but you must remember that the heat, generated by the blender’s blades ruins leaves dramatically: sucking off their beneficial oils that, in turn, make sauce darker. To avoid this, you can place two ice cubes into the blender right after basil leaves: it will reduce the heating process and will keep pesto lighter by preventing oil from getting absorbed.
Ligurians are pretty rigorous about adding pesto into certain dishes. If you believe you may mix any type of pasta with any kind of sauce, then you know nothing about Italian cuisine. Harmony between pasta shapes and particular sauces is more important than the art of composition in Verdi’s opera. Like in fine poetry, there is a straight correlation between form and content. The only shapes of pasta admitted in Liguria to toss with Basil Pesto are linguine (flattened spaghetti), trofie, or trofiette (short, thin, twisted pasta), and corzetti (small, thin rounds of pasta that are given an embossed decoration using a special wooden hand-tool). Italian people are extremely proud of their emerald and balmy treasure. Since 2007, they have been organized and promoted an International World Championship to inaugurate the most authentic pesto sauce of the year. In 2015, European Union started the process to declare pesto Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A new breed of Italian chefs placed it on the menus and made the dish according to the original recipe. To-days's pasta, would it be gnocchi or lasagne, with pesto is amongst the most known symbol of unexcelled Italian gastronomy in the contemporary world.
Tip. Don’t use pesto just as a standard pasta companion but also as a dressing for bruschetta with fresh tomato.
Authentic Basil Pesto Genovese
The obvious perk of having a green-thumbed husband is that, wherever I turn in the garden, I am bound to stumble upon edible goodies. Even in the busiest time, when the work load and the chores of domestic life take over, I can always count of fresh, perfumed herbs. Whatever is in season, it is likely to be growing in our sunny backyard, ready for me to pick and transform into a nutritious meal. Turning emerald-green basil leaves into Italy’s most loved pasta condiment is an easy enough task, the ingredients are few and easy to gather, the method quite straight-forward the only extra bit that will make the difference between a pesto and a really good pesto, is love and commitment to authenticity. Pesto is an ancient Ligurian dish and its name encapsulates the method used to produced it: in the Genoese dialect the word pestâ (Italian: pestare) means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and pestle, however it is acceptable these days to use a food processor. What has remained unaltered in times is the addition of boiled potato cubes and green beans, which elevate this humble dish to a delectable, substantial meal. Traditionally it is served with straccetti, trofie or trenette pasta, typical from the Liguria region of Italy, however spaghetti marries equally well with pesto and it is by far my dad’s desert island meal.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
2 large bunches of basil, stalks trimmed
2 ice cubes (they will help preserve the vibrant green hue of the basil if you are using a food processor)
1 garlic clove, peeled (use more if you like it very pungent, but jeep in mind authentic pesto is not garlic loaded)
3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmigiano
1/4 cup of freshly grated pecorino
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cup of green beans, trimmed and cut into three
320 gr (11 oz) of dry spaghetti
1. If using a food processor: put the basil, garlic, nuts, cheese and ice cubes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blades and blitz until smooth. Slowly add in the oil in a stream and process with the rest of the ingredients until dense and well emulsified. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
2. If using a pestle and mortar, add basil, garlic pine nuts and a pinch of salt to the mortar. Start working with the pestle, pressing and rotating it until all the ingredients are nicely ground. Add the cheese and mix well. Slowly pour in the oil and mix well until well emulsified. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use (it will keep, well covered in oil, for over a week). You can freeze pesto in glass jars with kids or plastic containers with lids.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Drop in your pasta along with the potato cubes. 4 minutes into cooking, add the beans. Cook your pasta and vegetables until nicely al dente. Drain, but be sure to reserve 3 or 4 tablespoon of pasta cooking liquor (aqua di cottura). Place the pasta, potato and beans onto a serving dish, pour over half of the pesto (freeze the rest or keep in the fridge covered in oil for a later day) and mix well. If too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking water.
Authentic Italian basil pesto recipe from Genova
This is the authentic Italian basil pesto recipe , a pasta seasoning from Genova, Liguria .
The authentic Genovese pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.
There are dairy-free versions , like this pesto with egg yolks, and there are many other recipes from other Italian regions, the Trapanese pesto , for example.
But the traditional basil pesto recipe has parmesan cheese, nuts, and a lot of olive oil.
I’m a pesto lover: I love the consistency I love its easiness. I love the nutty flavors, and I adore it as a pasta condiment or spread on toasted bread or on top of mozzarella.
To make the authentic Italian basil pesto recipe, you should use a pestle and mortar.
Pest the garlic and salt first, then pine nuts, then basil, and then the cheese. Finally, add the olive oil, a filo – continuously but a little at a time.
But I use a blender. And I guess 95% of Italians do the same.
The flavor is the same, the effort is 1/1000. This doesn’t mean, once every two years or so, I don’t get an ancestral need to pound, pound, pound, until I see the green juice explode from the leaves.