How to make pesto

Basil pesto

How to make pesto

by Great British Chefs3 February 2016

How to make pesto

Pesto, or pesto alla Genovese to give the dish its full title, originates from Genova in the north of Italy. The first recipes for pesto were documented in the 1800s, although similar sauces involving pine nuts and cheese can be traced back to Roman times. The Italian word pestare means to ‘crush’ or ‘pound’ and it was this word that gave us the English pestle.




Place the garlic and pine nuts in a pestle and grind to a paste with a mortar
Add the basil and continue to grind
Finally add the Parmesan and olive oil to make a paste
Use straight away or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days


The ingredients in pesto can be varied according to the season or even just personal preference. Try using other herbs such as coriander or mint; wild garlic also makes a great pesto during it’s short season in the spring.

Fabrizio Marino makes a celery pesto in his intriguing Travel notes serving it with a cheese cream, while Mauro Uliassi makes a nori seaweed-style pesto to serve with his inventive Tagliatelle of cuttlefish and fried quinoa.

Serving Suggestions

Pasta is the traditional accompaniment to pesto but it is also great in salads or to add extra dimensions to other dishes such as mashed potato. Andrea Migliaccio serves his Basil pesto with a Passata of San Marzano tomatoes and creamy burrata.

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