Dips, Sauces and Spreads, Gluten-free, How To

Genovese Basil Pesto

Loreto June 7, 2017

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Genovese Basil Pesto, “Pesto alla Genovese”, is a fresh aromatic, luxuriously coloured saucy paste, that just lifts anything that it is accompanied with.

Song of the day: “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran. Just love this song!

Genovese Basil Pesto

Genovese Basil Pesto uses great Italian ingredients, to form a wonderfully uplifting flavour and silky texture, one of a four-part recipe series happening this month, thanks to The Italian Centre Shop who #sponsored this post.



It is spring and we are starting to see wonderful herbs and produce. When walking through the Italian Centre Shop we noticed a lot of fresh basil. This was a no-brainer when it came to deciding what recipe we wanted to do, and so the wheels are in motion and we are making a beautiful Genovese Basil Pesto, but that is not all, every week this month we are featuring different pesto from various areas of Italy, that are equally delicious.

I researched pesto a bit and I was quite surprised that it did not make its way to North America till the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Pesto dates itself way back in Roman times where it was called moretum, which was a paste made from crushing garlic, cheese, herbs, olive oil, and vinegar. It is also mentioned in an ancient collection of poems called “Appendix Virgiliana”. During the middle age, Genoans adopted the pesto calling it Agliata, a crush of garlic and walnuts. With abundant basil harvest seasons, pesto rooted itself in Genoa, Liguria, and when basil was not existent marjoram or parsley were used, and a Holland cheese which was popular in the region, thanks to the “maritime Republic”.

Giovanni Battista Ratto wrote a cookbook in the mid 19th century called “La Cucina Genovese” which brought pesto to the forefront. If you search for pesto recipes, you will see differences in ingredients used from one recipe to another as families put their personal touch to this great idea, and if I know one thing about Italians, they are very proud of their food and speak great accolades on their recipes and traditions. Want to get into an argument with an Italian, tell them you have the best pesto recipe, and that will get the ball rolling, lol.

Having shared all this history, I want to get to the Pesto recipe and show you just how easy it is.

Into the kitchen we go to create Genovese Basil Pesto!

Fresh basil, olive oil, extra virgin organic, of course, salt, pine nuts, garlic,  and a combination of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, and we have the makings of a great Genovese Basil pesto. Traditionally in olden times a mortar and pestle were used to create the silky texture of this sauce, starting from crushing garlic and salt to create a paste, and then adding the other ingredients, olive oil always last.

Today we are going to save some time and go modern with a food processor. The series of events are as follows: basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, go into the processor, a few quick pulses and then the cheese. Leave the olive oil for last drizzling it a little at a time to form that shimmering vibrant coloured consistency that we love. Have a spatula handy as you may have to clean off the sides of the processor getting all the ingredients back to the centre to ensure a nice consistent texture. That’s it, easy breezy no? I just love the aromatics of making pesto, the basil, garlic, floating in the air giving nothing but smiles and hunger.

Genovese Basil Pesto

I just could not wait to taste this pesto, small spoon in hand and a small dollop on the end of the spoon, and the tasting begins. Oh, that basil, so fresh and tasty bathed in the olive oil. The Parmigiano and pecorino offer a nice pungent bite, and along with the garlic and pine nuts, my taste buds are on a tasting frenzy.

I have to share, well, kind of a funny story. I was quite younger then and I wanted to make pesto. I looked up the ingredients and being the free-flowing improvisational soul that I am, I concocted a pesto using my own measuring methods. Nobody ever told me about pine nuts and what potency they have. Well, I used I am going to say a generous portion of pine nuts. The aftermath, an incredible bitterness and bad mouth taste that unfortunately my son and I endured for almost a week. It was a bit of time before Joel and I ever wanted to have pesto. Thanks to Nicoletta and her father Franco, years later, we are back on the pesto train, sans abundant pine nut use,  and a 10 step program, little is more, lol.

This Genovese Basil Pesto is a great sauce for pasta but can be used to marinate fish, meats, and even vegetables. Imagine a roasted potato all slathered in this delicious pesto, or how about roasted vegetables, the possibilities endless for creative minds such as ourselves.

Genovese Basil Pesto

Thanks going out to The Italian Centre Shop for the great ingredients and stay tuned for more great pesto ideas to come in the following weeks. Maybe it will spark some great memories, would love to hear some of those stories!


Song of the day: “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran.

Pesto Four Ways

Genovese Basil Pesto

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 small food storage containers 1x


  • 50 g fresh basil leaves
  • 30 g (6 Tbsp) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 13 g (2 Tbsp) Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and deveined
  • 11 g (1 Tbsp) pine nuts
  • pinch coarse salt
  • 80 ml e.v.o. oil


  1. Gently wash and dry the basil leaves.
  2. In a food processor add all the ingredients leaving the olive oil for last.
  3. Pulse 4-5 times, then start slowly pouring in the olive oil as you pulse until mixture becomes smooth and well incorporated. You may have to use the spatula to clean off the sides of the processor bringing the mixture back into the middle. This is done with the machine turned off.
  4. Scoop mixture out of food processor bowl and into 2 small plastic food storage containers or small mason jars (see Notes).


If you’re not freezing your pesto, you can put it into a small mason jar, but remember to top the pesto with olive oil which will preserve it in the fridge for about 5-6 days. If storing in the freezer, you can use the small plastic food containers and you do not need to top the pesto with olive oil. The pesto will keep in the freezer for a couple of months.

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[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but the content and opinions expressed are our own.]

Need some ideas to use your pesto?

Portobellini Cheese Melts with Pesto and Peppers

Portobellini Cheese Melts with Pesto and Peppers


Scampi with artichokes over pesto cous cous


Penne with zucchini, blossoms and pesto

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  • Avatar
    Reply Ayngelina (@Ayngelina) June 7, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    The traditional genovese is still one of my favourite sauces, so good on everything.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 9, 2017 at 5:42 am

      Hi Ayngelina, thank you for commenting. I just love the smell of a good Genovese pesto. I use it as a marinade and love when we toss some potatoes with it and slowly roast them in the oven. Gives such a greaat flavor. and basil is one of those aromas that just makes you feel wonderful.
      Have a great weekend.

  • Avatar
    Reply Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.) June 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Yup, like Ayngelina, this is one of my favourite sauces. Use it everywhere!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 9, 2017 at 5:47 am

      Hey Mardi I think we have started a pesto revolution, which is not a bad thing afterall. The color of this pesto always amazes me, so vibrant and fresh. I think like anything great ingredients is always a must for successful recipes. We are fortunate to have this wonderful Italian store, always like going there not only to shop but also for the ambience of the place.
      Happy Friday!

  • Avatar
    Reply killingthyme June 7, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I love how bright this is! And I couldn’t agree more — you nailed it with how you described that it lifts anything it’s paired with. Fabulous way to put it. I love how easy and approachable this recipe is. My latest recipe (the squash blossom pizza!) calls for pesto — if only we lived close to one another we could mix and match 😀

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 9, 2017 at 6:04 am

      Hi Dana, love your comment. It is early morning and I am working away reading comments and enjoying them so much. Yum squash pizza and perfect it would be with this pesto. Yes that would be nice if we lived closer, I think Nicoletta and I would enjoy your company and Imagine the food sharing.
      Wishing you a sunny wonderful weekend.
      Till next time.

  • Avatar
    Reply Dawn - Girl Heart Food June 8, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Wow – who would have thought that pesto didn’t really become popular around here until then! Seems like it has been around forever. Though, I suppose, I didn’t really have as a kid so I guess kinda makes sense. Such a cute (and funny) story at your childhood attempt to make pesto – I guess that’s how we learn, right 😉 ? Love this one, you guys. Looks absolutely delicious and the colour is just beautiful. Pinning and going to put on just about anything! Have a great weekend!!!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 9, 2017 at 6:08 am

      Hi Dawn, thank you. Nicoletta and i work so hard veryday giving this blog our best. It is nice to recieve comments like yours, makes us feel we are headed in the right direction. I know I was amazed to here pesto history and its late comming to North America, well you know what they say, better late than never.
      Happy weekend to you!

  • Avatar
    Reply evolvewithmary June 8, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I love Ed Sheeran, all of his songs fill my heart with joy. I have to check out Castle on the Hill. I’m a huge fan of pesto, the first time I made it myself I couldn’t believe how easily it came together. Wow pesto didn’t make it’s way to North America until the 1980’s, now that’s surprising. I couldn’t imagine the arm strength needed to make pesto in a mortar, these cooks must have been ripped 🙂

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 9, 2017 at 5:59 am

      I can only imagine how much work it was usuing old world technology, but I think for them and those of us foodies that have a passion, it is all a labor of love. As for Ed Sheeran, he is quite talented and has a way to connect with people, not to mention the craftsmenship in his music, and that pure beautiful voice. Nicoletta and I saw him in concert and enjoyed it very much and would go again in a split second. Thank you for commenting and connecting with us.
      Have a great friday!

  • Avatar
    Reply loveofitaliancooking June 9, 2017 at 1:09 am

    Ciao Loretto! Love your photos! Such a lovely colour. Pesto is one of my favourite sauces to make. I make different variations myself, but I’m looking forward to the other pesto recipes that you’ll be posting over the next few weeks. 🙂 My parents used to make pesto with the leftover basil they had, after making tomato sauce. Of course, my parents never used a recipe. It was always a little bit of this, a little bit of that. They froze it for the winter months. I can’t say that I experienced the bitterness of the pines, but thanks for sharing your story! Now I know not to do that. 😉 BTW, I googled the song, Castle on the Hill. What a great song! I had never heard of it. As I was watching the video, it also brought me down memory lane of the days when I lived in the Chatham-Kent area in southern Ontario. I loved it there. La vita era più tranquillità. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto June 9, 2017 at 5:54 am

      Hi Rosa, I am in utter gratitude for your comment. We as food cloggers work very hard opening our passions to the world, and sharing parts of our lives. It is so wonderful when another person enjoys that you know you have done well. The fact that you searched the song and it sparked memories is wonderful to me. Music is such a great and huge part of Nicoletta and my life. Thank you for your wonderful heartfelt comment.
      Have the greatest weekend ever!

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