Pesto alla Genovese

This recipe was inspired by my daughters, who were recently in Liguria, Italy, where they often ate Trofie al Pesto, a traditional pasta dish of the Ligurian region. Trofie is a short twisted pasta from Liguria.

A few years ago, when I was staying just outside of Genoa, Liguria, I bought this delicious fresh Genovese pesto from a market stall.

I thought pesto would be a useful and delicious addition as is easy to make and any leftovers are very welcome for a speedy meal.

As well as being mixed into pasta, a little can be spread on to wraps, a pizza base or onto toast for bruschetta. For a vegan meal, simply replace parmesan with a vegan alternative.

Portions: 2 (easily doubled for leftovers and store in fridge for 2 days)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cookware: Mortar and pestle (traditional method) or mini-chopper

  • 1 small garlic clove – roughly chopped
  • 15g pine nuts – lightly toasted
  • 30g basil leaves (no stems)
  • 30g parmesan – finely grated (vegan alternative)
  • 40ml extra-virgin olive oil plus a splash to cover, if storing
  • 1/2 tsp rock salt


The traditional method is to use a mortar and pestle but I seem to achieve better results with my mini-chopper. When using the traditional way, I seem to bruise the delicate basil leaves, so prefer the chopper.

Lightly toast the pine nuts to release their flavour then chop or pound the garlic and pine nuts.

Add the basil, chop or pound, followed by the parmesan. Finally, pour in the oil and mix into a luxurious oily paste. Taste and add a little salt if needed.

Spoon into a small bowl or jar and if you are storing the pesto, top with a splash of olive oil.


Wonderful mixed into pasta of choice, sprinkled with parmesan and served with any dressed salad or veggie side.

If stirring into pasta, reserve 50ml pasta water to emulsify the sauce. As you combine the pesto into the pasta, add splashes of the water, to achieve a lovely creamy well-covered plate of pasta.


Trofie with Pesto alla Genovese (tastes great but not as green as in Liguria!)