Basil Pesto (Pesto alla Genovese)

Basil Pesto (Pesto Genovese) - Step 4 - Basil Pesto in Pasta

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves: 1 cup (236 milliliters)

Basil pesto or pesto alla Genovese is an incredible way to transform a pasta. I can’t really describe how awesome this is. Let me list the ways that make basil pesto is simply wonderful! Actually just imagine this…

You come back from work late (maybe you got back from to work late) and you need to make a quick meal. You realize that you forgot to go to the store, but luckily for you have basil pesto in your fridge/freezer. It’s late and you don’t want to spend the time it will take to cook a full three-course meal, so you settle for a delicious pasta. Whatever the situation, you do not have much time. You can still whip up a great meal using basil pesto. If you don’t have some in your freezer/fridge, you can still make basil pesto in the time it will take for you to cook your pasta.

Before we actually get to the recipe, I want to say a few things about pesto. Although you don’t hear about it very often, there are two types of pesto: pesto from Genoa (basil pesto), and pesto from Sicily (a tomato pesto). Here, I’ll teach you how to make a great basil pesto that will blow your mind (I hope not literally). In the future, I’ll show you how to use those ingredients that are typical to find in Southern Italy.

And so, without further ado, let’s begin!

Basil pesto

Before we begin, I want to give you a few tips on how to make your pesto alla Genovese.

  • After you wash your basil, let it dry.
    • If you make your pesto with wet basil you’ll have a few problems. One probably about the extra water will dilute good put the basil pesto and you’ll end with a paste that with a weaker flavor. The water itself (from the tap or wherever you get it) has a flavor. This will again change paste’s flavor. It’s like when you cut watermelon on the same cutting board as an onion without having previously washed the cutting board. (Definitely one of my pet peeves!) You should always wash your cutting boards. Believe you me, it is the worst when you sit down on a nice hot summer day with your freshly cut watermelon. You bring it to your face to closely look at the wonderful colors and smells. You bite into it expecting the gloriously sweet flavor and porous texture of the watermelon only to taste the acrid taste the sulfuric tang of an onion. Yuck. And so we’ve arrived at a Life Lesson: do not add extra water to your pesto.
  • Make sure you are only using the basil leaves.
    • The stems add an extra texture and flavor that really isn’t appealing. It can really just change the overall quality of pesto.

Basil Pesto (Pesto Genovese) - Step 0 - Basil

After you make your pesto need to check the salt content. Often any pesto you’ll find of uses salt or a salty cheese to bring out the basil’s flavor. We’ll add a touch of salt, but I’ll leave the content up to you.

Basil Pesto Recipe (For Real)

And without further ado, let’s begin our mission. Let’s run out and grab the following ingredients: 2 cups (25 grams) of fresh basil leaves (washed), two cloves of garlic (though I rather enjoy the flavor of garlic and I often add up to 5 cloves – it just depends on the day), 4-5 tablespoons (20-25 grams) of parmesan cheese, 4-5 tablespoons (20-25 grams) of pecorino cheese, 1/2 cup (106 grams) of extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup (45 grams) of pine nuts, and salt to taste. I have used Brazilian nuts as a substitution for pine nuts. It wasn’t bad, but I do recommend the classic nut: the pine nut.

If you have a food processor or a blender, toss all the ingredients into the food processor/blender and blend. I usually toss in the dry ingredients before the liquid, but I’ll leave that up to you!

Basil Pesto (Pesto Genovese) - Step 1 - Blend Ingredients

Basil Pesto (Pesto Genovese) - Step 3 - Blend in Olive Oil

That’s it! Super easy! I hope you like it as much as I do! Let me know what you think!

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 15 minutes
  • Serves: 1 cup (236 milliliters)

Pesto alla Genovese (basil pesto) is a traditional sauce from Genoa. With the sunset of summer on its way, basil is plentiful and just waiting for itself to become the world's most popular pesto!


  • 2 cups (25 grams) fresh basil leaves, washed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons (20 grams) parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 tablespoons (20 grams) pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup (45 grams) pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup (106 grams) extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste


  • 1)

    Blend dry ingredients: Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan and pecorino cheese, and garlic cloves into a food processor or blender. Pulse until everything is finely chopped.

  • 2)

    Add olive oil: Pour in the olive oil. Blend until paste forms (a few seconds).


  • Dry basil leaves before using
  • Avoid using the stems

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