Fresh Basil Pesto

What is pesto?

Pesto is the most famous sauce of Ligurian cuisine, or rather, of the northern Mediterranean Riviera, as there is also a similar version (sometimes complicated by the addition of tomato as a diluent) pistou is also found in France along the Provence coast. Two basic types of pesto are commonly known as: 

‘Di Ponente’, to which Genoese pesto belongs, is simple and vibrant.

‘Di Levante’, with a lower proportion of garlic and other refined elements.


History of pesto

Pesto is the gastronomic banner of Ligurian cuisine: its origin has distant roots and ancient kinship.

The roots are probably those of an oriental (Arabic and Persian) sauce at the base of which is a mixture of oil seeds (pine nuts) mixed with a fresh, sour cheese. To these ingredients were added, over the centuries, oil and basil; the cheese, a sort of yogurt that was originally the binder, losing this function in favor of oil was replaced first with pecorino and then with parmesan.


Pesto ingredients:

Fresh basil (preferably small leaf)

Pine nuts


Extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

Sardinian Pecorino cheese



What type of pasta is pesto generally served with?

Pesto is usually used to season tagliolini (or trenette), lasagne, trofie, potato gnocchi.
Pesto ‘advantaged’ pasta
The enrichment of pasta with vegetables is a typical custom of the Levante region, later to become common heritage in Ligurian cuisine. 
You boil the taglioni in the same pot of salted boiling water in which you boil green beans and peeled, chopped potatoes (white potatoes are best): put it in 15 minutes after the potatoes, 10 after the green beans. Drain them with the vegetables and then season with pesto.

Wine pairing

This is a dish that goes very well with young, aromatic and savory white wines, able to bring out the freshness of the vegetables and basil. 

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