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Pesto takes many forms, but this is my favorite Classic Basil Pesto Recipe, simple and perfect: fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, extra virgin olive and salt.
We ate a lot of it during our trip to Italy, but especially in Levanto and the Cinque Terre ("The Five Lands"). You'll find classic basil pesto on every menu there as Pesto alla Genovese. It originated in Liguria and is one of the region's quintessential flavors.
Speaking of quintessential, the Cinque Terre, with its brightly colored buildings clinging to cliffs above the Mediterranean, is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. And for good reason; the entire area is beyond stunning.
I've professed my love for pesto many times on this blog (Almond Pesto is a favorite), but if I had to pick one, this would be it. It's so versatile! Scoop it into brothy soups, toss it with pasta or vegetables, slather it over chicken, fish or seafood, blend it with aioli to make Pesto Aioli, or just eat it with a spoon.
More authentic Italian Recipes you should try:
Classic Basil Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves 2 ounces
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- ¼ cup raw pine nuts
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 1 ounce
- generous pinch sea salt plus more to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down bowl sides with a spatula.
- With the food processor running, add olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth. (The less time this takes the better as heat from the blade can affect the flavor.) Taste and add more salt if needed.