Genoese Basil Pesto

Pesto di Basilico alla Genovese

The only way to have true Genoese pesto would be to go to the Liguria region of Italy where the tiny fragrant sweet basil the Italian Riviera is famous for can be found. Locally grown basil, although not quite the same, will produce a very nice pesto for those of us who may find it impractical to fly to the Riviera whenever we feel like having pesto.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 15 minutes


  • 2 ounces fresh basil leaves, stems removed
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano pecorino cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened to room temperature


  1. Put the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor and grind to a fine, almost creamy consistency. This part may be done ahead of time and refrigerated or even frozen. If you plan on storing it for some time pour a little extra olive oil to cover the surface to prevent the basil from oxidizing and turning black.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and mix in the two grated cheeses.
  3. Before tossing with pasta mix in 2 tablespoons of hot pasta water and the softened butter.

Traditionally pesto is served with trenette which is basically the same as fettuccine, but it is also excellent with spaghetti or spaghettini and potato gnocchi.