Pasta with Pesto Sauce

  • Active Time 30m
  • Total Time 30m

Serves 4

This is the prince of Genoese dishes. In Italian cuisine, pesto is considered the most important and the most famous of uncooked sauces. A true pesto, as the name indicates (it means ground or pounded), is made in a stone mortar with a boxwood pestle. With the development of food processors and blenders the tradition of the mortar is disappearing, especially in restaurants. If you wish to make the dish in the style of the Levantine Riviera (which runs between Genoa and the Cinque Terre with Camogli and Portofino in the middle), potatoes and green beans are served together with the pasta.


  • 2 bunches basil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated sharp pecorino
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 or 3 potatoes, cut into pieces (optional)
  • 5 ounces green beans, trimmed (optional)
  • 13 ounces trenette
  • 1 tablespoon butter


Immerse the basil leaves in boiling water for 1 minute (this guarantees a lovely bright-green pesto that will not go dark). Wash and dry the leaves and shred them by hand. Put the basil in a mortar with the pine nuts and garlic and work until the mixture is reduced to a paste. Add the cheeses and oil a little at a time, still pounding, alternating the pecorino and Parmesan and taking care that each addition is absorbed before adding more.

As the mixture thickens, add a little more oil, and at the end taste and add salt, if necessary. The resulting pesto is a creamy soft sauce. (If you prefer to use an electric mixer, the order of procedure is the same. It only takes a few minutes, and the result can be quite satisfactory.)

About 10 minutes before cooking the pasta, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Then cook the green beans in boiling salted water until al dente. Finally, cook the trenette in boiling salted water until al dente. Before draining the trenette, stir the butter and a little of the pasta's cooking water into the pesto sauce to dilute it and give it a creamier consistency.

Drain the pasta and vegetables, dress with the pesto and serve.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.

RecID 961

nutrition information per serving

1265 calories; 125g total fat; 55mg cholesterol; 620mg sodium; 28g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 8g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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