• Basil 100 gr of leaves
  • Pine nuts 60 gr
  • Parmesan cheese 40 gr
  • Extra virgin olive oil 120 ml
  • Garlic half clove
  • Pecorino cheese 60 gr aged
  • Coarse salt as needed

Homemade pesto is a Ligurian condiment made with freshly picked basil. Its preparation is not easy because the doses of the ingredients, which must be high-quality ingredients, and the order in which they are mixed, must be respected. There are, therefore, guidelines that establish how the real pesto alla Genovese is prepared.

  • Wash the basil leaves under running water delicately, so as not to ruin them too much
  • Dry them by tapping them with a clean cloth, without breaking the leaves.
  • Grate the pecorino and Parmesan cheese.
  • Pound the garlic using the pestle and mortar, after that, add the coarse salt. Put the basil leaves in the mortar a small bunch at a time and pound them using a circular motion so that the leaves gradually start breaking apart.
  • After pounding all the basil, add the pine nuts and continue to pound to break them up into lots of small pieces
  • Combine the grated pecorino cheese and grated Parmesan cheese to the mixture and, finally, drizzle with olive oil to allow it to absorb all the scents.

The real basil pesto is ready when all the ingredients have blended together well and are ready to be used with pasta.


Homemade pesto can be stored in a container, to keep it from turning black, and frozen. It can also be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

If you are not planning on using the pesto right after it has been prepared, you can store it in jars sealed by using water bath canning.

What type of pasta is best to serve with pesto?

Homemade pesto is used as a condiment for various main dishes such as potato gnocchi, spaghetti, or even lasagna made with pesto instead of ragu sauce. If you want to prepare a traditional Ligurian main dish, serve the pesto with trenette or trofie pasta with potatoes and string beans.


Homemade pesto can be prepared without oil. It is very similar to the traditional pesto alla Genovese, but it uses lecithin which also makes it vegan.

If you don’t like pine nuts, use walnuts instead. This won’t compromise the flavor too much, and they will also add a more rustic touch to the pesto. Pesto can also be prepared without garlic if you want to keep your breath fresh after eating it.

How do you keep homemade pesto from turning dark?

To keep the pesto from turning dark, it is important to keep it covered. Once the pesto is ready, cover it with olive oil and a sheet of plastic wrap. It is important to keep it away from heat (if you are using a blender to prepare the pesto, blend it for few seconds at a time). In fact, pesto tends to darken because of heat and oxidation.

What is the best wine to pair with pesto alla Genovese?

Pesto alla Genovese can be paired to Vermentino, a dry wine with a delicate aroma, a crushed rocky minerality, saltiness and a persistent flavor.


Pesto alla Genovese is an uncooked condiment which dates back to the Roman age and, as described by Virgil, was called "Moretum". During the maritime republic, it became a staple in Ligurian culinary tradition and is now a symbol of Genova. The first real recipe for pesto dates back to the 1800's.
today, a well-known cookbook indicates the qualitative requirements for the real pesto alla Genovese.


One of the secrets to obtaining a creamy and perfect pesto, is to place all the ingredients, in a precise order, into a marble pestle and mortar, pounding them together well while adding olive oil until a smooth (not too smooth) cream is made. You may have noticed that I do not add salt to the pesto and there is a reason: a good amount of pecorino cheese gives the pesto the right amount of saltiness. More salt can be added if needed.

Interesting Fact

There is one major difference between Pesto Ligure and pesto alla Genovese: pesto Ligure is only made using specific ingredients, such as Ligurian oil, Ligurian basil and so on, the pesto alla Genovese can be made with ingredients that are not necessarily from that region (but always Italian).