Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own

Pesto alla Genovese – A Legendary Italian Sauce

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I’ve always loved pesto, but I didn’t use to make it at home. I usually ate it at restaurants or (I confess) used jar bought pesto. Although I was totally aware of what I was missing, I don’t know why, I never decided to prepare it at home. That was until a few weeks ago, when I saw a beautiful fragrant bunch of basil at the supermarket and have a pesto epiphany!

I did some research and having no family or friends secrets and tricks, I followed the official recipe approved by the Consorzio del Pesto Genovese (Genovese Pesto Consortium) to begin with. The homemade version turned out to be one of those things in life that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never be able to settle for anything less.

This sauce is so healthy, fresh, fragrant, simple and yet delicious that I’ll keep preparing it and further experiment with it for sure. It’s also very versatile: it can be served with pasta, vegetables, meats and anything else you can imagine.

Apart from the good quality supplies, the key to this recipe is the use of a mortar and pestle. Pesto has to be prepared using these utensils, since a blender will heat the mixture, ruining it. The ideal would be to use a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. I don’t have a marble mortar, but as in any other Catalonian household, I do have a ceramic mortar with its wooden pestle to prepare all-i-oli (Catalonian garlic and olive oil sauce), which I don’t, but inherited the utensils nevertheless.

And… if you happen to be angry or frustrated  about any issue, using the mortar and pestle is a great, cheap and harmless therapy, so prepare your wrist and let’s begin!

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: n/a


  •  1 garlic clove
  • a few grains of coarse marine salt
  • 2 handfuls of clean basil leaves (20 g)
  • 1 handful of pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoonful of  grated Pecorino Romano
  • a dash of extra-virgin olive oil


Put the garlic clove in the mortar with some grains of coarse salt and start crushing it with the pestle.

Once the garlic is partially crushed, add the basil leaves (in batches) and grind them with soft knocks combined with circle movements until they are completely ground.

When the mix had turn into a bright green paste, put in the pine nuts and grind them using the pestle.

Then, incorporate the cheeses. To finish, pour enough olive oil to form a soft paste and mix with the pestle.

Serve immediately at room temperature over any dish of your choice. I served it with spaghetti and it was delicious, enjoy!






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