Classic Recipe: Pesto Genovese

Make the greenest of all green sauces

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There are many variations on pesto, the classic sauce with roots in Liguria on the northwestern coast of Italy. Whether pounded in a mortar and pestle or whirred in the food processor, they all have one thing in common: beautiful, fragrant leaves of fresh basil.

The most classic version, which happens to be our favorite, involves fresh basil, raw garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts and luxuriously fruity Ligurian olive oil. We don't like to mess with a good thing, but a touch of lemon zest really brightens things up. Use it to dress pasta, smear on sandwich bread, dip grilled vegetables or season a bowl of chilled soup.

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Pesto Genovese With Lemon
5 from 48 ratings
Lean to make the greenest of green sauces.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 10 minutes
  • 4 cups loosely packed basil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Ligurian
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  1. In a food processor or blender, add the basil, lemon zest, garlic, cheese, and pine nuts. Pulse until the mixture is roughly chopped, about 3 to 5 seconds. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream until the mixture becomes smooth. Season with salt.
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