Pesto can be made with a variety of ingredients, however basil, grown throughout Liguria, is always used. The other ingredients vary based upon where the pesto is made and what is available locally.
Walnuts or hazelnuts can be used in place of pine nuts. Goat cheese and ricotta may substitute Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino.
The word pesto comes from the verb pestare, to pound.
Pesto alla Genovese
Pesto is made by vigorously pounding the basil with sea salt, pine nuts and garlic in a traditional marble mortar. Extra virgin olive oil is slowly added and then either pecorino or fresh goat’s milk cheese and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano are mixed in. Pesto should be stored in well-sealed glass jars, kept in cool, dark places. Pesto tastes great when tossed with pasta. In Liguria, it is often served with testaroli, which are large, flat noodles, or with trenette or trofie. The later dish is usually prepared with cubed boiled potatoes and sliced boiled green beans as well.