Pesto alla genovese is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of Northern Italy.
The name is the contracted past participle of pestâ (“to pound, to crush”, from the same Latin root as the English word pestle), in reference to the sauce’s crushed herbs and garlic. Historically, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle.
Preparation and cooking time: 10 minutes
- 50 grams tightly-packed fresh basil leaves (about 60/65 leaves)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1½ teaspoons)
- 6 tablespoons freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 tablespoons freshly-grated pecorino cheese
- 1 tablespoon lightly-toasted pine nuts
- Coarse sea salt
Soak the basil leaves in cold water, and then pat them gently but thoroughly with towels.
Put the coarse salt and garlic into the mortar.
Add about a third of the fresh basil leaves and begin to grind the ingredients with the pestle, using a rotary movement.
After the basil begins to break down, add another third of the leaves. Add the final third of the leaves, continuing to grind them into a paste.
Add the pine nuts and grind them in with the pestle, which will begin to amalgamate and soften the sauce.
Add the grated cheeses and use the pestle to incorporate completely.
Add the olive oil, slowly in a thin stream, and stir with a wooden spoon until distributed evenly.
Serve the Pesto alla Genovese immediately.