Classic Recipe: Pesto Genovese

Make the greenest of all green sauces
48 Ratings
100% would make again

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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.

Pesto Genovese with Lemon

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: N/A

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


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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