Basil Pesto alla genovese sauce
Sauces & Soups Veggies

Basil Pesto “alla Genovese”

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Basil Pesto or more often simply called “Pesto alla Genovese” is a typical Ligurian green sauce made with 7 fresh and genuine ingredients. It is certainly one of the most loved and well-known Italian sauces in the world.

This extraordinary sauce is traditionally hand-made, using just a stone mortar and a pestle, pounding all raw ingredients until they’re reduced to a creamy sauce.

It’s quick and easy to prepare, and it’s also convenient if you are lucky – as I am – to have a basil plant at your home. 

Although Pesto has a simple preparation, timing is fundamental: it must be as short as possible, to avoid that ingredients will get oxidized and the sauce becomes dark and bitter!

The original recipe for Basil Pesto consists, as I said, of 7 ingredients: Fresh Green Basil Leaves, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino cheese, Pine Nuts, Garlic and Salt.

Basil Pesto ingredients

All ingredients that must be expertly handy “mixed” to preserve all organoleptic qualities.

As for most of the typical culinary products of Italian Cuisine, the Genoese Basil Pesto boasts ancient origins: the recipe is appeared first on the XIX century by Giovanni Battista Ratto who published it on the book ” The Genoese cuciniera “. 

Nowadays, Italian Original Basil Pesto is protected and recognized by law product, that aims to enter into the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage.  

By the way, let see How to Make a Genuine Basil Pesto “alla Genovese”

First of all, mandatory is to use only fresh and top quality ingredients!   

Basil should be light green and intact, without cuts or breakages. Leaves must be well dry. Water can compromise the sauce, so wash leaves in advance and put them to dry before to begin. 

Regarding the cheese, take care to use only Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese. Avoid adding any cream milk or butter to the sauce, that will compromise the flavor.

The original recipe requires exclusively Pine Nuts, so be wary to whom suggest adding walnuts, almond or cashews….

To make the traditional recipe it would be necessary to work the ingredients by hand using a Stone Mortar. If you have one at home, using a dose of elbow grease, follow the steps indicated below, having the care to add oil when the other ingredients are well blended.

If you do not have mortar on tap, you could still use a mixer as I did. In that case, a good trick to prevent the pesto becomes dark and bitter, is refrigerate the mixer container and even the blades in the freezer for about five minutes before starting and then blend to the lowest speed.

How to preserve your Basil Pesto Sauce

To preserve your Pesto you can put it in a jar with an airtight lid, covering the sauce surface with a little extra virgin olive oil. In this way, you can store up to one week.

To keep it longer, pour the sauce into ice molds and let freeze them. Once frozen, remove the cubes and store in a refrigeration bag. In this way, you will always have “pesto cubes” at hand, even in small quantities.

One final tip: Pesto alla Genovese is a raw sauce, so it should NEVER NEVER be heated. Add it to your dishes (pasta, pizza, meat, chicken, or whatever) only when the cooking process is ended.

This tasty sauce is perfect for every kind of quick meal, you can use it to dip tour chicken breast, or to fill a sandwich, or to dress a perfect salad with potatoes and green beans.

There are so many ways to eat Pesto, that youìll be spoiled for choice. My favorite is, obviously, with Pasta! Which is your favorite?

Yield: 4

Basil Pesto "alla Genovese" Sauce

Basil Pesto alla genovese sauce

Basil Pesto "alla Genovese" is a typical Ligurian raw green sauce based on fresh basil pine nuts and cheese hand-blended with mortar and pestle. Probably one of the most loved and well-known Italian sauces in the world.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 100 g Fresh Basil leaves
  • ½ cup Extra virgin olive Oil 
  • 6 sp Parmigiano Reggiano 
  • 3 sp Pecorino cheese
  • 5 sp Pine nuts 
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • ½ tsp Rock salt 


  1. Wash and dry the basil’s leaves.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves, discard the center (to get a sweetener flavor) and chop it together with some rock salt grain. Put them into a mixer processor or blender.
  3. Add the pine nuts pound them together with garlic using the pulse option.
  4. Add the basil leaves and blend slowly again.
  5. Add both grated cheeses (Parmigiano and Pecorino) and continue to blend them until the sauce starts to become creamy.
  6. At this point, put the blender at the lowest speed and slowly pour oil into the sauce. Mix for no more than one minute to prevent the sauce from blackening.
  7. Et voilà, your Pesto is done and ready to be used, or to be stored into a jar!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 598Total Fat: 59gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 44gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 733mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 15g

Nutrition Data is automatically calculated and may be not accurate.

I hope you’ve loved this recipe as much as I do!

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If you are interested in knowing more typical Italian sauces and dressing, you can visit our dedicated pages Sauces & Soup and Salad & Dressing.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that as an Amazon Associate I receive a profit from eligible purchases. There is no additional cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

1 Comment

  1. This looks so amazing. Will definitely try it. Thanks for sharing!

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