This Is The Ultimate Recipe for Pesto Sauce

What goes into an authentic recipe for pesto sauce? The answer depends on who you ask but the consensus is this tasty sauce originated in the port city of Genoa, located in the Italian region of Liguria.

The fact that pesto sauce comes to Liguria is important. The region produces extra virgin olive oil, a special type of garlic and a particular variety of basil that results in a sublime pesto sauce.

Of course, a last-minute trip to Liguria may be out of the question but what's most important is you purchase the freshest ingredients possible.

An authentic recipe for pesto sauce calls for the following ingredients being crushed in a mortar:
  • basil
  • Italian pine nuts 
  • Grana Padano cheese
  • Pecorino cheese
  • garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

The reason for using a mortar and pestle and not a food processor or blender is that the heat from the blades will ruin the basil by reducing the essential oils it releases and will darken the leaves, according to Italian food writer Roberta Schira.

If you insist on using a machine then Schira recommends adding a few ice cubes to the blender after you've pureed the ingredients to cool things off a bit.

Pesto sauce is one of the best known Italian sauces: learn how to prepare this pasta sauce made with basil and extra-virgin olive oil.

  • Basil - 3 twigs, from PrĂ 
  • Pine nuts - 2 Tablespoons
  • Grana Padano cheese - 2 Tablespoons
  • Pecorino Cheese - 2 Tablespoons, 'Fiore Sardo' Variety
  • Garlic - 2 Cloves, from Vessalico
  • Salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil - From Liguria


  • Preparation time20 m
  • Recipe categorySide
  • Recipe yield1

You mustn’t wash the basil, just clean the leaves with a wet towel.

Peel the garlic and place it in the mortar with some salt and start crushing by making circular movements.

When garlic becomes creamy, add basil leaves and some more salt to help crushing the leaves and keep the bright green color.

Crush the basil until you get a green liquid, then add the pine nuts.

Start adding one by one the cheese, keep stirring, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil, and stir.

Blend in all the ingredients until you get an homogenous sauce.

If you are using a blender, put all of the ingredients together and blend repeatedly for short amounts of time, add the ice cubes, finish by mincing the sauce, add oil.