Pesto—The Way it Should Be

After visiting Cinque Terre it is impossible not to have pesto in mind.

You can’t really go by without seeing it publicized, on the menus, for sale, or even seeing classes offerings on how to make the real pesto!

Of course it can be made with a blender in a few minutes, but how about doing it the right way, with the right ingredients.

Below are the ingredient according to Accademia della Cucina Italiana (or Italian Academy of Cuisine), an Italian cultural association founded in 1953. The association aims to protect the Italian gastronomic tradition and to promote and improve it in Italy and abroad.

Ingredients for 6 people

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 bunches of basil
  • 80 g of pine nuts
  • 80 g of seasoned Sardinian pecorino
  • 80 g of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 glass of extra virgin olive oil (best if it is the Ligurian EVO)
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse salt.


Add a few grains of coarse salt and garlic to the marble mortar. Crush the garlic, then add the small basil leaves, alternating occasionally with small handfuls of pine nuts.

Moisten everything, just slightly, with some extra virgin olive oil from Liguria region, and start adding the grated cheeses , and mix both the pecorino cheese and the Parmesan.

To make pesto you need a large marble mortar, a wooden pestle (never wash it: clean it only with soft kitchen paper) and a lot of aptitude to crush & rotate to mix & smooth. You can skip the gym exercises for upper arms that day! 😃

Pesto is the main condiment of the Genoese, in particular for the trenette, as well as for the trofiette which, in particular, benefit from the addition, in the boiling water, of a few slices of potato, to be drained with the trofie.

That’s the Genoese way, I like pesto also in spaghetti, though they must be thin, and pennette, and yes, I love it on potatoes gnocchi. In addition, adding a spoonful of pesto makes extraordinary the summer minestrone, served just warm.

Is it worth doing it this way instead of throwing everything in the blender and give a few fast runs?

I think it is, if you have a bunch of fresh fragrant basil and the other prime ingredients why not.

While making it the scent of basil will be released and it is very pleasant, it makes your kitchen smell good. Although it does take some upper arm workout—which may be an added bonus—but the reward is unquestionable!

I think having precise quantities is very important. The first time I did it, I used too many pine nuts, and the result was not that good as it was too tick and “pasty.”

Also, I (must) skip the garlic, because garlic can be tricky on some people, if you don’t have that problem go ahead, otherwise skip it.

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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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