Fresh Pesto Genovese Sauce for Pasta

Picture of Fresh Pesto Genovese Sauce for Pasta
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 http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/98aug/pesto.htm
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of 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

Picture of 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:

Picture of
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!
xvicente2 years ago
wow, what BIG leaves!! I wish mine grew like that. They are only one to two centimenters long.
ExpatCucina5 years ago
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?
lizzyastro (author)  ExpatCucina5 years ago
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 :)
lizzyastro (author)  ExpatCucina5 years ago
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 ;)
chuckr445 years ago
Mmm. I'm going to buy some basil seeds tonight, and in 3 months I'll make this. :) No really, I am.
lizzyastro (author)  chuckr445 years ago
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.
lizzyastro (author)  chuckr445 years ago
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.