Pesto Sauce alla Genovese

This delicious pasta sauce is almost a symbol of Genoa, the Ligurian city where it originated. Simple and with few ingredients, it makes an excellent condiment for the warm weather months. And it’s not limited to just pasta. Try it on chicken, meat, cooked fresh green beans, a tomato salad, or as a risotto. And here in Italy, many places even serve pesto pizza!

Pesto alla Genovese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Print

A fresh, light pasta sauce perfect for a hot summer day or all year round, and delicious on many different dishes!

The secret to a perfect pesto is to not use a blender or food processor as these heat the ingredients, making the basil bitter. Hand chop the ingredients or blend them using an old-fashioned mortar and pestle. This helps to keep the flavors more distinctive and the basil sweeter.


  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste


  1. Clean basil leaves by wiping with a clean damp cloth or paper towel. Only wash if worried about pesticides, and then dry thoroughly.
  2. Chop pine nuts finely. (For this you can use a blender.)
  3. Finely mince basil leaves.
  4. Mix basil, garlic, and pine nuts together and blend lightly using mortar and pestle.
  5. Place in a bowl and mix well with cheese, olive oil, and salt until ingredients form a loose ball.
  6. 6.Serve immediately by mixing well with pasta cooked al dente.

Keeps for 1 day following these instructions: Mix all ingredients except olive oil. Form into a ball, flatten, and place in a small bowl. Pour olive oil on top; refridgerate. Blend all ingredients before mixing with pasta.

🍷 Suggested wine:

Vermentino White

Pasta with pesto is a light pasta dish, best accompanied by white wine. Vermentino grapes grow in both Sardinia and Liguria, so once again following the old adage “If it grows together it goes together,” I suggest finding some Ligurian Vermentino. This light-bodied dry white wine with its fruity undertones blend just right with pesto!

🥂 Cin-cin and buon appetito!

Images: Fettuccine by Engin Akyurt | Spaghetti by Victoria Alexandrova | Emojis from Emojipedia.

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