Pesto Genovese – Classic Basil Pesto

Pesto Genovese

Yet another recipe born out of our veggie garden. This is the first year, that I planted basil in our garden. Every year, I’ve tried growing basil from seeds, and for some reason I never had success with it. This year, I got a small basil plant and put it next to our tomato plants in the veggie patch. I have been using this as a herb in pastas and soups, and the basil plant just grew to be so huge, and it was beckoning me to use up all of the fresh basil in something that would make it the main ingredient and not a garnish.

I have for a long time wanted to make a classic Pesto Genovese from Italy – but have stayed away of not having basil readily available. This pesto is traditionally uses fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts and sheep’s milk cheese and is usually made using a mortar and pestle. The word ‘pesto’ itself means to pound, much like the Indian sauces that were hand ground in the early days. I was so inspired to make this classic sauce that I went out and bought pine nuts and pecorino romano cheese and set out on making the most authentic sauce my pasta would ever touch.


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Stream in half of the oil and process pushing down the basil mixture, so that the oil is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Add the grated cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Stream in the remaining oil and process until smooth.


Toss with pasta, use it to make pesto pizza or toss in salads.

Freezing tip: You can also transfer it to a glass jar and freeze for later use. Just make sure the jar is clean and dry and cover the bottled pesto with a layer of extra virgin olive oil before freezing. The pesto may slightly discolor on freezing, the green tinge may vary, but it will still taste the same. I doubled the above quantities and have frozen pesto to last me for the next year.


Verdict: Super fresh and vibrant. Basil is one herb that make the entire kitchen smell so divine. The pine nuts do add a unique flavor to the pesto and so does the pecorino romano. So happy to have made an authentic Italian classic in my very own kitchen.

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One Comment

  1. One more tip to freeze is to drop 2 TBS of pesto in ice cube trays and when frozen transfer the cubes to freezer bags and store. When needed you could just pull out the quantity needed rather than thawing the whole batch.
    I haven’t tried with pecorino. Will have to sometime.

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