Basil Pesto Original Italian Recipe

pesto genovese

Basil is a powerfully aromatic herb and in Italy is used a lot for fresh salads, for pasta and, of course, for the original pesto “alla genovese”. The original Italian recipe of the pesto can seem a little bit too extreme but if you want to do it in the proper way, this is the only recipe you have to use.

The recipe calls for, beside the fresh basil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts so if you decide to substitute these 2 ingredients then you’re not making an original pesto. Pine nuts can cost a fortune these days but they’re unmissable for a good pesto and the result is unexpected, especially if you’re used to the shop bought one.

It also calls for a good splash of extra virgin olive oil which can really make the difference and, if you really stick to the Italian tradition, you don’t have to use a food processor but a mortar to keep the flavors.

Having a jar of pesto in your fridge is a life saver so using the food processor is allowed these days to keep things simple but if in your life you’ll have the opportunity to make it using the mortar you will easily notice the difference both in taste and consistency.

What you need for a jar of homemade basil pesto

50 grams of fresh basil (about 60/65 leaves)
1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil
6 spoons of Parmigiano cheese
2 spoons of Pecorino cheese
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of pine nuts
3-4 grains of coarse salt

How to make the basil pesto with a food processor

1. Wash the basil and drain it without breaking the leaves;
2. Combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, Pecorino and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor together with the salt.
3. While the food processor is running, slowly add the oil in a steady small stream. This process will emulsify all the ingredients and help keep the olive oil from separating. If needed, stop the food processor to scrape down the sides of it.
4. When the pesto is ready, use it for your pasta or anything you like.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

pasta al pesto di basilico

Advices for making an authentic Italian pesto:

The processing of the pesto must take place quickly in order to avoid its oxidation;
If you pesto is too sticky, add some hot water from your pasta to make it a little bit more liquid;
It’s possible to freeze the pesto adding less oil to the recipe. The oil will be added once thawed;
It’s possible to use the pesto within 5-6 days from its preparation just adding extra virgin olive oil on top to avoid the oxidation and using a plug to close the jar.

You know that…

The shop bought pesto is original and guaranteed by the Consorzio del Pesto (an Italian institution) only if it’s called “pesto genovese”. If it’s called “pesto alla genovese” or “pesto genovese style” probably it’s not the original pesto even if it contains some of the original ingredients.