Start by using a marble mortar and wooden pestle, it is important to make sure that basil leaves do not darken. In fact, the steel blades of the food processor tend to oxidize basil. This way you will have a very dark green and slightly bitter pesto. Mortaio means mortar and pestle in Italian.
The name pesto itself contains the method it is supposed to be prepared: a pesto is something pestato, pounded with a pestle. For this reason, the word does not always mean a basil sauce for pasta: in fact, the denomination ‘’alla Genovese’’ is not optional but essential to define the Ligurian dish.
Pesto has long been a traditional sauce to use, mixed with pasta, on top of chicken or even to toss vegetables in. It is as simple as picking up a jar straight from Italy or give it a try making it yourself.
We say Alla Vecchia Maniera! Translated, Do it the old fashioned way! Although using a food processor to make pesto seems to be the fastest and easiest way to do, it but trust us, if you are willing to make your pesto the old fashioned way, you won’t be disappointed and you will probably never switch that motor on again!
Here is what we use to make our simple Pesto Alla Genovese. Remember we do every thing dall’occhio, by eye.
- The basil has to be the specific Ligurian variety with its pure fragrance and small leaves, (Ocimum Basilicum).
- Look for extra virgin olive oil from Liguria as well.
- Choose pine nuts that come from the Lunigiana, the border area of Tuscany that is practically from Southern Liguria.
- Then, add coarse sea salt, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano and last but not least some pecorino.
Ligurians take pesto alla Genovese very seriously!
There is a local saying: ‘’Se il basilico e’ foresto, di sicuro non e’ pesto’’ – if the basil, is from anywhere but here, whatever it is, it isn’t pesto’’.
Just as important as the preparation of the pesto, is the choice of the pasta to go with it. For Ligurians the tradition calls for either trofie or trenette. Add the cooked pasta to a saute pan with the pesto mix until it is all coated and serve.
Buon Appetito! If you make it tag us #healthyitalia