Posted by: Cooking Thyme | January 31, 2011

Pesto alla Genovese

Last week a lot of people around the world have felt pretty green.  Not with envy, and hopefully not from nausea, but from as I mentioned in my previous post it was a global celebration for Pesto at the 4th year of the International Day of Italian Cuisine.

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves,washed and dried                        
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ Tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated

  Among Italian cooks, you’ll find many different techniques for making pesto. The marble mortar and wooden pestle are the tools traditionally used to make pesto, but I’m sure many of you don’t have one and nowadays everyone is in a hurry and is using a more convenient blender

I seldom make it using a blender however, since I’m aware that most of you are busy and have no time, so I’m gonna show you a way how to make pesto in less than one minute, yes one minute, that’s even quicker than grabbing it from the shelf and running to the cashier to pay for it at your local supermarket.

I know that most of you can’t get hold of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Ligurian Riviera, garlic cloves from Vassalico or fresh Genovese basil, therefore in my recipe below I modified a few things to adapt to your local produce and pantry.

So probably this recipe will raise some controversial comments, but in my opinion and experience, this is a recipe that respects the tradition and at the same time gives a clear direction and allows anybody in any part of the world to be able to produce great Pesto Genovese with the ingredients they have available.

Rinse the basil leaves in cold water and let dry on a paper towel.

So lightly toast the pine nuts, to give a creaminess rather than nuttiness. Do not… toast the pine nuts until they are coloured.
Chuck the basil with the garlic in the processor. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and give it a good whiz. Add the cheese and then add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.

Season with salt and pepper and taste, and then add the remaining Parmigiano. Pour in a little bit of oil. Always taste the sauce and add more oil, cheese or season until you are happy with the taste, and Bob’s your uncle.

Top up your jar with olive oil, this will remain  good for about a week in the fridge or you can store in the freezer.


The reason why you should use a pestle and mortar, and not a blender, is because rather than having the juices released by the crushing action of the wooden pestle, the metal blade of the blender will chop the leaves and bruise them and this will compromise the flavour. So if you have an old blunt blender blade, don’t throw it away. leave it for making sauces.

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