Pesto Genovese {recipe}

This entry is part 14 of 31 in the series My Italian Kitchen


Pesto comes from the Liguria region, where Genova is located, up in the hip flexor of the boot. It is often called Pesto Genovese to distinguish this basil pesto from other kinds of pesto. This raw, cold “sauce” is, traditionally, served over pasta. I also like to use it in chicken salad! (My own personal spin, not an Italian dish.)

Pesto is so easy to prepare that there is no reason to buy the bottled kind, unless, of course, you can’t find fresh basil. I like to grow basil in the summertime as a crop so I can make lots of pesto! You can also freeze it for later.

The traditional recipe calls for a mortar and pestle (pesto comes from pestare which means “to pound”) and although I have one, who’s got time for that? I use my trusty Cuisinart.

Pesto Genovese


  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (or one if you don’t like a strong flavor of garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cups pine nuts or sliced or slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


Put basil, garlic, cheese and salt in the bowl of a food processor and give it a whirl. Add nuts and chop. Then stream olive oil until a smooth paste forms.

Two friends said I should have a cooking show. Here you go Leslie and Karla! Your very own show!

A few tips …

  1. You can store unused pesto in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Cover it with a film of olive oil to keep it from oxidizing.
  2. Start with dry leaves. Try washing your basil in the morning of the day you are going to use it.
  3. Try not to overheat the pesto when whirling it as it will speed up the oxidization process and instead of a brilliant green you’ll end up with a blackish paste. Like guacamole after a day.
  4. You can freeze pesto but allow it to come to room temperature on its own. You cannot heat it. It changes the chemical structure. (Actually, I don’t know if this is true but the cheese will melt, the basil will darken. Just trust me on this.)
  5. It makes a great pizza topping.
  6. As I already said, you can add it to your mayo when making chicken salad. It’s really good.


Series Navigation<< La Genovese {recipe}Italian Herbs and Spices {recipe} >>

About Sheila @ Making the Most of Every Day

I'm a wife, mom, and a homeschool teacher. I'm always behind on housework and paper pile sorting. I'm fond of this crazy life but not of melted cheese. I want to follow hard after God, making each day really count. I like to run, read, cook (and eat!). Thanks for joining along on my journey!

6 thoughts on “Pesto Genovese {recipe}

  1. You are rocking the videos, Sheila! Well done, you! For those of us who haven’t grown basil, can we buy fresh leaves somewhere? Is it too late to plant some?

    1. Oh absolutely. I had to buy it for this recipe. My basil is almost used up. It’s a summer crop so it’s too late to sow now but you can buy a little plant to keep on the windowsill in the winter. It won’t be enough to make pesto but it’ll be nice to have for other recipes such as bruschetta, ragù napoletano, or caprese salad. If you buy it by the package, you’all probably need two.

Comments are closed.