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Pesto Genovese – Liguria Typical Recipe

This is a recipe which my husband is really proud of (often he prepares it by himself): the Pesto Genovese – Liguria Typical Recipe.

Being from Liguria and being proud of our roots, the “Pasta al Pesto” is a must for us. We get crazy when we hear people calling pesto something that is not comparable at all to our Pesto. The real Pesto is made of basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Pecorino cheese and garlic. Nothing else. All the variants including almonds or other ingredients…well, they are different dressings.

To stick with the tradition, the real Pesto Genovese is prepared using a marble mortar. My grandma once had a very wonderful mortal of white marble. At that time, I was not interested at all in cooking…but just eating.

In order to prepare the Pesto Genovese, you will also need two other ingredients: time and patience. Since we are sons of our times, we are always in a hurry. This means we heavily rely on electric tools: like a mixer, for instance. We are not to be blamed, but we have to be careful. Using a mixer, there is the risk to obtain a darker Pesto or a more creamy/liquid one. It will taste really good anyway.

Why does the Pesto become dark? One cause could be its exposition to oxygen, another one could be linked to the blades of the mixer: overheating the blades, the basil overheats as well and it becomes dark. In fact, the basil leaves used as spice should be minced with hands and not with a knife.

In order to get around this problem we can use a hand blender allowing an intermittent use or low speed. If possible, it is preferable to use plastic or ceramic blades.

But now, it is time to go on with the directions to prepare the Pesto Genovese. With the proposed quantities we usually dress two portions of pasta.

Pesto Genovese - Liguria Typical Recipe

Pesto Genovese – Liguria Typical Recipe

Ingredients for the Pesto Genovese:

  • 50 g of basil in leaves;
  • 1 spoon of pine nuts;
  • 4 spoons of grated Parmesan cheese;
  • 2 spoons of grated Pecorino cheese;
  • 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 grains of course salt;
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional).

Preparing the Pesto Genovese – Liguria Typical Recipe

First, we have to wash the basil leaves. We have to quickly wash them under cold water, drain them well and let them dry onto a clean rug. This is very important: the basil has to very very dry!!

Preparing the Pesto Genovese using the mortar

Put into the mortar the coarse salt and the garlic (I usually don’t use it, I find it difficult to digest). Start mashing the ingredients and carry on until a cream is obtained. Add the pine nuts and continue mashing.

Now it is time to add the basil leaves: add few at time and mash them with gentle rotary movement along the mortar edges.

Add the cheeses and finally the oil. Slowly pour the oil few at time so to combine it to the other ingredients.

Preparing the Pesto Genovese using the mixer

Put the garlic and the coarse salt in the mixer container: mix them. Add the pine nuts and mix again.

Add half the quantity of the basil leaves and mix with some intervals to avoid the mixer overheating. Add the remaining basil leaves and the oil, few at time (the quantity necessary to obtain a cream) and mix. Finally add the cheeses.

Note: Using this technique, I usually don’t use all the oil. I keep a bit aside for the conservation.

Conservation of the Pesto Genovese – Liguria Typical Recipe

If you don’t use the pesto suddenly, conserve the Pesto Genovese into some hermetic containers. With these quantities for the ingredients you won’t obtain a great quantity of pesto but you can double or triple them to make a reserve.

Pour the pesto into the container(s) and cover the surface with some oil. Conserve the pesto into the fridge for about 2/3 days or freeze it.

To defrost, move the pesto from the freezer to the fridge the night before using it.

Pesto Genovese - Liguria Typical Recipe

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