Genovese Basil Pesto

Pesto is very versatile! It tastes great on pasta, meat, and bread!

Photo by mali maeder on

Pesto Alla Genovese was invented in Genoa, Italy. Genoa is a region in Northern Italy. Pesto was created during the 16th century. The name comes from the Genoese word “pesta” which means to crush or pound. This refers to the fact that the original sauce was prepared in a mortar and pestle. Traditionally pesto consisted of basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese that was pounded and blended together. Pesto is most commonly used as a sauce for pasta, but it can also be used as a spread, a salad dressing, or as a sauce for poultry, beef, or fish.

Pesto is a favorite sauce in our household. When my husband and I were first dating we had this weekly routine where we had pasta every Wednesday. He would always make Pesto Pasta when it was his turn to cook for Pasta Wednesday. I was always pleased when he used the fresh basil from my kitchen garden. He had this little food processor that was perfect for making small servings of pesto, and he loved how the sauce did not involve any cooking or heating like marinara or Alfredo. It was exhilarating for him that pesto could just be created by throwing all the ingredients into the food processor. Whenever I eat pesto I always remember those fond memories of Pasta Wednesdays. I hope you enjoy this dish and share the recipe with someone you care about!

Genovese Basil Pesto Recipe

Yields 1/2 cup of sauce (about 2 servings)

Prep Time 5 minutes

Active Time 5 minutes

Specialty Tools: Food Processor


1 cup Italian basil leaves, packed

1/4 cup pine nuts, peanuts, or walnuts

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


Put the basil, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into a food processor. Pulse/grate until finely chopped.

Add the olive oil to the food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth. The consistency will be thick, but almost creamy.

Stir in the cheese. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

Use pesto as desired.

To store in the refrigerator make sure to put pesto in an airtight container, and cover pesto with a light layer of olive oil on top to seal the freshness. The pesto will keep for about 4 days.

To store in the freezer pesto can be put into jars or bags that can seal. Another easy way to freeze place pesto ice cube trays, freeze, and then pop pesto cubes into a bag that can seal. Frozen pesto will keep for about 10 months.

If you are not in possession of a food processor a blender can be an acceptable substitute.

Genovese Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe

Yields 2 servings


Prep Time 9 minutes Cook Time 3 minutes

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay


8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup Genovese Basil Pesto

Garnish: Freshly grated Parmesan


Cook spaghetti to al dente pasta directions.

While the spaghetti is still hot, toss with the pesto sauce. Hot pasta absorbs sauce better*.

Serve hot and garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired. This dish goes great with focaccia bread!

*If you cooked the pasta beforehand reheat the pasta in a pan and then toss with the pesto sauce.

Need more protein? Saute some mushrooms and add them to the pasta.

Want a heartier meal? Grilled chicken also goes great with pesto pasta.


Tag @culinary_cupcake when you upload your photo on Instagram and hashtag #culinary_cupcake


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