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 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.
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.
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.Print
- 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
- Gently wash and dry the basil leaves.
- In a food processor add all the ingredients leaving the olive oil for last.
- 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.
- 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.
[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?