When I stopped in my local produce market on the weekend, I was looking for something that totally escaped me…. as soon I spotted the glorious, green-ness of basil, nothing else mattered. Pesto alla Genovese was all I could think about!!
With it’s green blush, so aromatic, so distinctively, deliciously unique… and when combined with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano… into the pesto, or paste, it is as heavenly a kitchen creation as was ever made.
Pesto Genovese also holds a special place in my heart – with memories of my first trip to Italy. While staying in Riomaggiore, just south of Genoa where Pesto Genovese originated, we had a kitchen in our flat, allowing us to make dinner… and include some new found traveling companions. What to serve…? No question. It had to include the local Pesto Genovese. Along with some very delicious, yet very inexpensive local white wine, (if it grows together… it goes together!!) some prosciutto, just sliced and sooooo fresh it melted on your tongue, some grilled vegetables, mozzarella di bufala…. mamma mia. Check out the next photo, for the view….as if the food wasn’t beautiful enough!
Store nuts in the freezer. With such a high oil content, they can quickly go rancid at room temperature.
Ahhhh, Parmigiano Reggiano. Especially in something like fresh pesto… accept no substitute.
Unless you can make it by hand using a mezzaluna… using the pulse feature on your food processor does an acceptable job.
The aromas while making it were driving me wild…..
Add the cheese at the very end.
Isn’t that gorgeous!!
Ready for the fridge, with a topping of oil – to help keep the colour. It will darken somewhat, but don’t worry. If it lasts that long… should be good for at least 3 to 4 days in the fridge. If you want to freeze some and capture the essence of summer – leave out the cheese. You can add it later when you take it out for use.
Pesto alla Genovese
This should make enough for at least four generous servings of pasta. The idea is to make it into a paste, but not too heavy with oil. When it’s combined with cooked pasta, some of the starchy pasta cooking water is added, to help it all come together. You’ll see recipes that say to lightly toast the pine nuts – an Italian would not. They say it helps with the creaminess of the sauce.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp salt
approx 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano (or use half Pecorino Romano cheese, if you can find it)
Add the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt to the food processor, using pulse to keep some texture – you do not want a totally smooth puree.
With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil to make a thick paste.
Stir in the cheese at the end.
Put in a covered container for the fridge, adding a light layer of olive oil on top.
Feeling adventurous?? Try it in lasagna, using a white sauce instead of tomato, or, as a topping for bruschetta. Buon appetito~