I couldn’t blog about Sicilian pesto without giving equal attention to its northern Italian counterpart, Pesto alla Genovese (aka basil pesto). Every summer, my mom grows basil in her backyard, which I help to “harvest” (if I’m visiting) into a massive batch of pesto that dominates our freezers–and fills our stomachs–throughout the winter. As the years pass and I get older, the size of her basil plant grows taller. This year was quite the year, as you can see below. Yes, that basil plant is 4 feet tall. All I see is pesto…pesto…pesto…
I have experimented with basil pesto over the years, using different nuts and changing the olive oil-garlic-cheese ratios. Out of all the iterations, I discovered that I prefer walnuts to pine nuts, flat leaf parsley intermixed with the basil, and (shocker) Pecorino-Romano cheese versus parmesan/romano.
Because the flavor of Pecorino-Romano is so potent, I decreased the quantity in this recipe so as not to overpower the pesto. The flat leaf parsley adds another dimension of flavor, albeit subtly, and the walnuts have less saturated fat and more protein than pine nuts.
This pesto is a solid accompaniment to not only pasta, but white fish as well, such as barramudi, mahi-mahi, tilapia, and cod. Try dolloping the pesto over sliced fresh tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella for a flavor packed salad. The options are as endless as the leaves on my mom’s basil plant. My guilty pleasure? Scooping the pesto with fresh veggies or gluten-free crackers. Shh, don’t tell.
Pesto alla Genovese
2 packed cups basil leaves
1 packed cup Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (according to consistency preference)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Load basil, parsley, cheese, garlic, and walnuts into a food processor. Pulse several times until combined.
2. Run the food processor while simultaneously pouring olive oil slowly into the processor’s spout (if that is the right term)
3. Season with salt and pepper, and pulse one final time.
4. Fill pesto into tupperware container sizes of choice. Add a little olive oil to the tops of each container before adding the lids (this will prevent the pesto from browning).