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The modern Pesto Genovese recipe was introduced by Giovanni Battista Ratto in 1863. Ratto was an Italian gastronomist (“foodie”) and wrote a book on local cuisine of Genoa called “La Cuciniera Genovese.” Ratto’s book contains the first official written version of the recipe for Pesto Genovese and the one still used today.

Of course true Pesto Genovese uses ingredients from the Ligurian region, but you can make amazing pesto with those ingredients you get here as well. The best basil leaves grow in your own garden or on your sunny window sill. If you don’t have fresh growing basil then make sure you get the freshest you can find. There is some debate among Italians over which cheese is used in the traditional version, parmesan or pecorino. Ratto wisely included both in his recipe.

Here is our favorite recipe for Italian Pesto Genovese:

Ingredients: Serves 4 people

1 oz pine nuts

1 garlic clove

8 fl oz olive oil

3 oz pecorino sardo (graded)

2 cups of Basil

Salt and pepper


Put the pine nuts, basil, garlic and a pinch of salt and black pepper in a food processor, slowly add the olive oil a little at a time. The grated Pecorino should only be added once all the other ingredients are blended well together. Use pulse feature.

You can keep it in the refrigerator or use it on cooked pasta, slather some on a nice crusty bread or however you choose. Refrigerate any leftover pesto. And never, ever heat your pesto. The fresh flavor will be lost.

A Traditional Ligurian Dish

The traditional Ligurian pasta that most often accompanies pesto is called trofie. Trofie is an egg-free pasta (flour, water and salt) and small pinches of dough are twisted to form the traditional shape.

Trofie al pesto is one of the most famous Ligurian dishes. The trofie is boiled, drained then combined with cooked green beans and diced potatoes and mixed with Pesto Genovese.