Fresh Pesto Genovese Sauce for Pasta





Introduction: Fresh Pesto Genovese Sauce for Pasta

About: Wife of one, mother of three & now a grandmother too! I enjoy making things and cooking edible things and eating them. aka on IRC as AstroMom

A recipe for a traditional Italian pasta sauce made with fresh basil and pine nuts (pine kernels) .  Pesto is remarkably easy to make and is simply stirred into hot pasta to serve.

This version uses both olive oil and butter.  Butter is much more widely used in northern Italian dishes than in southern ones, and pesto is originally from Genoa (Genova) in the North West of Italy.

This article gives more history

Step 1: Ingredients

1 cup/ 2 oz /  50g fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup / 4 fl oz / 110 ml olive oil
1/3 cup / 3 oz / 75g pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups / 4 oz / 100g / freshly grated parmesan (or a mixture of parmesan & pecorino)
1 stick / 2 oz / 50g butter

This makes enough pesto to serve with 1 1/2 lbs / 24 oz / 750g pasta

Step 2: Prepare the Ingredients

Strip the basil leaves from the stalks and discard the stalks

Grate the parmesan

Allow the butter to soften or soften in the microwave

Peel the cloves of garlic

Step 3:

Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and pinch of salt into a food processor (traditionally a mortar and pestle would be used, but this is 21st century pesto) and blitz until it becomes a paste.  We like ours reasonably chunky still, but you can make it smoother if you prefer.  I Use a mini-processor, that I originally bought to puree baby food.  It is just big enough to do this quantity of pesto.

If freezing the sauce it is recommended that you do so before adding the dairy ingredients, though I have often frozen it with the butter and the cheese with no apparent loss of flavour or texture, and even if some is lost it is still much superior to the "pesto" you can buy in jars!

Empty the paste into a bowl and stir in the grated cheese and softened butter.

That's it, your pesto is now made!

Step 4: How to Serve

Choose a pasta that will hold the sauce well - fusilli, radiatore or cellentani/cavatappi all work well.

Cook the pasta until 'al dente' - still slightly firm to the bite, not crunchy, not soggy. 

Take 6 to 8 tablespoons of the hot cooking water and stir it into the pesto sauce.  Drain the pasta, return to the pan and then stir in the pesto until the pasta is well coated. 

Serve immediately with crusty bread and a simple salad.



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    wow, what BIG leaves!! I wish mine grew like that. They are only one to two centimenters long.

    You Italian? This recipe is pretty authentic. I dont use butter though but might be cause im from the South as u said. Mine gets out a more creamy, yours looks a bit chunky is it only and effect in the pic?

    4 replies

    No, I'm English not Italian, but I'll take that as a compliment. Yes this one was a bit chunkier than normal so I could have processed it for longer. If we get basil glut, I make it in the big food processor which gives a smoother results. Thank you for the comment.

    I just use a simple blender, like this one, and it comes out pretty smooth :)


    I'll try the stick blender another time. Looking back at the photo some of the chunkiness is from the cheese & butter which melt down when you add the pesto to the pasta.

    You're right in northern Italy we use butter but it is not very cheap, Genova is famous for the parsimony of the people, so in pesto only olive oil :)
    If you want a sauce more creamy use a blender like this

    It's easier and you'll have a better result ;)

    Mmm. I'm going to buy some basil seeds tonight, and in 3 months I'll make this. :) No really, I am.

    3 replies

    Either buy seeds or pot on basil bought as a growing herb from the supermarket. We have had excellent results growing our basil hydroponically - big succulent, flavoursome leaves. Yum.

    Tell me how your pesto works out later in the year

    Thanks. Yesterday I bought Sweet Basil seeds. I hope that's a good kind of basil for pesto.

    Yes, that is exactly what you need. Don't plant the seeds deeply - they like to be on or just below the surface of the growing medium. Plenty of water and they'll soon be on their way.