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DeLallo Pastas and Sauces Recipes: Pesto alla Genovese - Classic Pesto Recipe

Pesto alla Genovese - Classic Pesto Recipe


This is a universal recipe for homemade pesto, probably the ideal one. The choice of the ingredients is very important, especially concerning the basil. It has to be young, with small leaves and fragrant. Avoid any basil that smells of mint; you’ll end up with a mint sauce!


  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup DeLallo Pine Nuts
  • DeLallo Natural Sea Salt Coarse
  • 2/3 cup DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated DeLallo Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated DeLallo Pecorino Romano


Preparation with a pestle and mortar:

Gently wash the basil, pulling all the stems off and preserving only the leaves, and allow them to dry on a towel. Start with the garlic - it's a popular ritual that you should have a clove of garlic per thirty leaves of basil (no, you don't have to count the leaves) and add the basil with a dash of coarse sea salt. You need to gently roll the pestle against the mortar walls, shredding the leaves as you go. As soon as basil juice starts to form in the bottom of the mortar, it's time to add and crush the pine nuts. Then add the two grated cheeses in the mortar and continue to stir until a nice green paste is formed. Add the olive oil very slowly, while slowly rolling the pestle. Adjust with salt and there you have it - the best pesto of your life.

Preparation with a food processor:

A trick to avoid the risk of the heat produced by the food processor spoiling the pesto flavor is to put the removable parts of the processor in the freezer for a couple of hours before using it. Also, in order to reduce the amount of time the leaves are in contact with the blades, put all your ingredients in the food processor at once and use the maximum speed; if you work fast, you'll get a great pesto. (It's helpful to stop the processor three or four times to scrape the pesto from the sides with a spatula.)

Pesto Variations:

The fascination for pesto has led thousands of epicureans to experiment with variations on the theme. The most common variations are in the use of different types of nuts: walnuts, cashew and even almonds. Good pesto can also come with the combination of two or three different kinds of greens, such as basil with arugula, or basil and parsley, or combining the three together. But if you want to add a personal zest to your pesto, homegrown marjoram is probably the best choice.

Serving Tip: To serve with pasta, combine with a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water so it will cover the pasta evenly.

Leftover Tips: Leftover pesto can be stored in a jar. Add some extra virgin olive oil on the top to avoid oxidation. It can be left for weeks in the refrigerator without harm. And, though it might hurt the sensibilities of some, yes, pesto alla genovese can be frozen.

Linguine, or Trofie al Pesto

Cook your pasta al dente as usual - preferably using linguine, or even better, trofie (though it's hard to find this outside of Liguria unless you make it yourself). For this dish, it is crucial that the pasta is not overcooked. When the pasta is ready, toss it in a warm bowl with the pesto. Make sure the pesto is not taken directly out of the fridge, but has been brought to room temperature. Save a little of the pasta cooking water and mix just a bit in as you toss the pesto and pasta. Serve at once. (An important reminder: Do not sauté the pesto in a pan with the pasta, this is meant to be a raw sauce.)

Serves 4 to 6