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Trenette with pesto

  • 32 minutes
  • Easy
  • First Courses
Pesto originally comes from the region of Liguria where it is most often paired with trenette – a small, twisted type of pasta noodle.

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 1 lb trenette
  • 1 oz basil
  • ½ oz pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 ½ oz grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Place into a mortar (or into a modern mixer) well-washed and dried basil leaves, finely chopped garlic and pine nuts; add the necessary oil bit by bit.

Once you have quite a creamy mixture, blend in cheese to bring everything together, and salt to taste. Cook the “linguine” until “al dente” in abundant salted boiling water, drain well and pour into a tureen.

Dress with pesto sauce and, should it be too thick, slightly dilute it with a glass of pasta cooking liquid. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve immediately.

Food History

Pesto is one of the gastronomic symbols of Genoa and the wider region of Liguria. This basil-based sauce was created during the 19th century in this splendid corner of northern Italy.  According to tradition, pesto Genovese must be prepared using a marble mortar and a wooden pestle so that the basil doesn’t oxidize and is able to give off all of its wonderful aromas. If pesto is made using a blender or food processor, the metal blade chops rather than rubs the basil leaves, bringing out less flavor. Although we said that the original recipe for pesto comes from two centuries ago, it derives from a basil sauce made for the first time in Genoa in the high Middle Ages. Historian G.P. Sacco wrote that at then end of the 11th century, the leader of Genoa, Guglielmo Embriaco, participated in the first crusade, together with other Genovesi, helping to conquer Jerusalem. Captain Bartolomeo Decotto was a part of the troop and, noting the amazing curative properties of basil, decided to bring some seeds with him to Genoa from the Holy Land. Back in Liguria, the captain began cultivating basil, first using it as an herbal medicine, then as a ingredient by pounding it with oil in a mortar. This was the first Italian basil-based sauce that over the course of the centuries became what we know it as today.

Did you know that...

A world championship for making pesto with a mortar has occured annually in Genoa since 2007? 

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