The belated but inevitable recipe for pesto alla genovese

You know what is an outrage? That I have lived in Genova for over a year and that I have never posted the recipe for real pesto alla Genovese.

Fresh bavette al pesto.

The last couple of weeks I was back in my lovely Genova, visiting my love (you know, meringue man). At some point, we were in the supermarket where we saw tiny cute wee basil plants. “Why don’t we get one,” he said, “I’ll make you pesto.” Fucken yes, I thought, because pesto is pretty damn good. But after we got home, we realised we had forgotten some essential ingredient, we lacked the inspiration to do just about anything, we changed our minds about what we wanted to eat or something like it. Whatever the reason was, the plant was forgotten about and left to fend for itself on the windowsill. It did not survive the night.

The seemingly healthy, fragrant, shiny leaves had turned dry, dark and odourless in only a few hours. Even though we had watered it, it had passed away. It was most depressing. But that morning I had to go out for some milk anyway, so I also picked up a wee pack of precut basil and we used that for our pesto instead. Mindful of our previous wastage, we were careful to make the pesto that same day. It turned out THE BEST THING EVER.

Blender does the job, too.

The word pesto comes from the Italian verb pestare, ‘to grind’: originally, pesto was made in a mortar by grinding up all of the ingredients. But that implies a mortar and my love doesn’t own a mortar and it also involves a lot of hassle and we couldn’t be bothered with that. So we used a blender, which works just fine as well!

The only thing you need to be careful of with a blender (or food processor) is that you don’t overheat the thing, because the warmth from the machine will do the pesto no good at all. The best thing to do is to stick the blender in the fridge for a couple of hours or so before you start using it. Then, whilst you’re using it, only press the pulse button, rather than leaving the blender on for a while.

So, for a portion of delicious pesto alla genovese for two you will need the following:

  • one bunch of basil, about 60gr
  • a clove of garlic
  • a tbsp of pine nuts
  • about 25gr of grated parmesan and pecorino, a little more of the previous than of the latter
  • enough olive oil
  • some salt

Wash the basil leaves and dry them carefully.

...and then use some valuable, antique table cloth to dry them, like we did.

Peel the garlic, cut it in half and remove the planty thing. Put in a blender with the pine nuts and blend to a fine mixture. Add the basil, the cheese, a pinch of salt and a little bit of oil, and start blending carefully. Carefully keep adding oil until the mixture has the right substance. If the the concoction doesn’t mix well, add a small amount of water.



The pesto should be good enough to be eaten like this, with only pasta. However, if you find that too meagre a meal you could always make this.

Et voilà.

Also, for anyone who’s interested, the wrapper around the basil plant had a recipe on it that this one is loosely based on. I took a picture for later reference:


About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
This entry was posted in Food, Italian, Vegetarian. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The belated but inevitable recipe for pesto alla genovese

  1. Pingback: The magic of food on foreign holidays, or: why edible souvenirs are never as good back home | La dittatrice della cucina

  2. annelenalj says:

    hee ;) heb je dit niet voor ons gemaakt maar dan met spinazie, en walnoten?


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