The pesto sauce is the best known dish representing the Ligurian cuisine. It is called “Genoan” after the capital city of the region, but there are actually several versions, which differ in the amount of garlic used, as well as a few other helpful ingredients added to enhance the color or soften the flavor (eg spinach, parsley or marjoram).
Traditionally the pesto sauce must not be blended, but only “beaten” in the mortar. This object is quite beautiful but impractical, so we should use the mixer. Remember that basil rapidly loses its flavor: so a good pesto is made and consumed right away; It can be stored up to one week in the fridge while keeping it covered with a film of oil. If you want to keep it for a long time (up to 6-7 months) freeze it, but in this case do it without the cheese, then add it after it has thawed.
Traditionally, pesto sauce needs pecorino cheese: if you can’t do without the parmesan make half and half. Finally the old Ligurians also added some walnut kernels, when they didn’t have the pine nuts.
To season 500 g of pasta.
- 120 g of basil leaves (about 40 medium size leaves)
- 120 cl of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 5 tablespoons of grated pecorino cheese
- 1 heaping tablespoon of pine nuts
- coarse salt
- Hand-chop the basil, slice the garlic and place in a blender with the pine nuts and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Chop intermittently (and possibly at low speed), stirring the basil frequently. Don’t add oil or other liquids: you have to make pesto, not a milkshake!
- When all the basil is finely chopped, add the cheese and mix well
- Finally add the oil, stirring for long until you get a smooth sauce