Creamy Genovese homemade pesto sauce

Creamy Genovese homemade pesto sauce

I did promise I will come back with a really nice recipe for homemade pesto sauce and here it is this rustic and totally authentic Genovese one that will be guaranteed a regular in your fridge and your table from now on.

If you ask me about the best pesto sauce I will immediately say that the homemade one is by very far the best one to always use which goes beyond better any market jarred ones.
I just came back from Genova the other day and I said to myself this is it! Pesto sauce recipe time.

Pasta Pesto, pasta pesto, pasta pesto….  It’s all I hear when I ask my kids what they want to have when making a pasta. They love it so much.

Pesto sauce! Have you made it yet? Pesto is one of our absolute favourite, ultra, ultra-flavorful sauces, and it always seems and sounds so much more fancier than it really is especially when it comes to making it.

All you’d need it’s a rather larger mortar with a wooden pestle or if you do not have this (invest in one) a food processor or even a blender, would also do, not as well as the mortar but will do. It is easier with a food processor as you can put everything in but that’ll alter the taste. The traditional way is a great way of keeping all flavours in unaltered.

It is quite a healthy sauce  thinking about it and all that basil and pine nuts flavours ….oh

I love pesto sauce also because it is so versatile. You can make it in advance and use on pasta, a nice homemade pizza of course added at the end after cooking the pizza (do not bake pizza with pesto sauce- it is not nice, I have tried it), on zoo-noodles or even in sandwiches.
I used it also in potato salads, potato gnocchi, over an omelette or in a soup, especially a minestrone one. Add a dash and you are on a different planet.

It gives that amazing super touch of anise  flavour. So Superb!

But…where does this amazing sauce originates from?

Pesto sauce comes from Genova a lovely coastal city in northern Italy, in Liguria region.
Every time I go to Genova where it happens that my dearest Luisa and Moreno live, Moreno makes this most amazing trofie with pesto sauce.

Trofie pasta is the best pasta to use, a typical Ligurian pasta, but trenette, linguine, angels hair or a simple spaghetti, all cooked al dente would work beautifully with this homemade pesto sauce too. However, nothing worse than an overcooked pasta. I am not even an Italian saying this but an Italian would stop even talking or being a friend with you if you overcook their pasta. ;-)) It is that serious and I soooo have to agree on this….

As far as this pesto sauce is concerned, it is such a beautiful sauce, meant to be served uncooked so try not cooking it, it does get spoiled, those flavours are unique this way and no other way.

There is a similar sauce that I like in Provence, in France called Pistou but that contains no nuts or cheese,  I will talk about that one another time though.
Here is my recipe for this heavenly Genovese home made  creamy and so flavoursome pesto sauce.

Creamy Genovese homemade pesto sauce
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5 from 3 votes

Creamy Genovese homemade pesto sauce

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian


  • 100 g fresh basil leaves and stalks
  • 35 g pine nuts *
  • 40 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese freshly grated
  • 35 g Grana Pandano freshly grated
  • 1 tbsp sea salt or pink Himalayan
  • 3 tbsp olive oil good quality extra virgin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon juice


  • Wash thoroughly the basil leaves using only very cold water.
  • Add the basil leaves and stalks to the mortar - use half if your mortar is smaller. Very gently, pretty carefully and quite slowly, crush the basil leaves for 3 minutes (1 min if using a food processor).
  • Once the leaves are crushed, add the slightly crushed and chopped garlic, the pine nuts (or other nuts if you decide using different ones), salt, and the cheeses. Crush these using circular movements or whizz for another minute or so until it becomes a smooth creamy paste.
  • While pounding using a light circular movement of the pestle or while whizzing add the olive oil which should be a good quality Extra Virgin Olive one.
  • The source is now ready to use so enjoy it.


Creamy Genovese homemade pesto sauce_pesto_sauce
Pine nuts:
- Sicilian pine nuts are one of the best if you could find as well as Californian - if you do not have those pine nuts that are also quite pricey, try any other nuts such as walnuts, macadamia, almond.
- As cheese, only use a nice matured Parmigiana Reggiano or a Grano pandano (ideally a mix of those) and no other cheeses like a Pecorino or other cheeses if you want to keep that authentic taste.
- I was saying that the best way to make this sauce to try and not compromise the flavour, is by using a mortar with a wooden pestle but of course an electric food processor or a  blender would also do the job.
It's the metal blade that spoils things a little but hey, I do understand we don't always find the time to do things the traditional way. It’s more time as well as more effort but for t his it is worth a try and worth the effort.
- Try and prepare this as fast as you can to avoid oxidation.
- If you’re not using it all at once and want to keep some for later, place the remaining sauce in an airtight jar and keep in the fridge for a maximum of two weeks.
Try this quinoa pesto salad or this beautiful chicken roast pasta sauce. 
Thank you for stopping by! 

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6 thoughts on “Creamy Genovese homemade pesto sauce”

    • Walnuts sound like a fantastic option – will definitely give that a try – I love walnuts so much -super helthy too – thank you for the tip Amanda 😉

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