Trofie with Genoese Basil Pesto Sauce

5′ reading time

Pesto (in Genoese “pestu”) is a traditional condiment of Genoese cuisine, and is included among the Ligurian Traditional Agri-food Products (PAT).

The name of this sauce, for which Liguria is famous throughout the world, indicates the method of procedure, namely the pounding of the leaves and other ingredients in the traditional “murtaà” (mortar) of marble using the wooden “pestellu” (pestle).

Pesto can be considered the first greasy sauce, based on olive oil, in the world of gastronomy.
The main ingredient of “Genoese pesto” is basil, called in dialect “Baxaicò“, derived from the Greek òkimon = basil and basileus = king: that is to say royal herb.


The pesto recipe, as we know it, does not have very ancient origins.
The original recipe dates back to the second half of the 19th century; the first to mention it seems to be a well-known gastronome of the time, Giovanni Battista Ratto, in his work “La Cuciniera genovese”.

But this condiment can only see the light if you think that Liguria is traditionally the cradle of aromatic herbs.
The use of aromatic herbs for the Ligurians is a tradition that has origins in the Middle Ages, with different habits, based on social categories: the rich share their banquets with refined spices, while the poor used it to flavor soups that are not too tasty.

A famous legend tells of a convent on the heights of Prà (Genoa) named after San Basilio, in which a friar who lived in that house collected the aromatic herb that grew on those hills (called basilium, in honor of San Basilio), he combined it with the few ingredients offered to him by the faithful and, pounding everything, he obtained the first pesto which was gradually perfected.

recipe preparation time icon
  • Preparation Time:
    15 minutes
recipe cooking time icon
  • Cooking Time:
    10 minutes
recipe difficulty level icon
  • Difficulty Level:

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 400 g of trofie
  • 3 bunches of PDO Genoese basil (from Prà)
  • 100 g of pine nuts
  • 100 g of grated PDO Parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil 1 spoon
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic

How to make trofie with pesto

Pesto, if you want to follow the original recipe, should be made with a mortar, but today the majority of Ligurians do it with a blender.

  1. Take all the ingredients and mash them in a mortar until they become a light and bright green cream (or blend them)
  2. Season the trofie and garnish with a few basil leaves


Tricks for a perfect dish

  • The original recipe calls for 50 g of Parmesan and 50 g of Sardinian pecorino, but the latter is rarely used due to its pungent flavor
  • Do not replace pine nuts with walnuts !!!
  • You can cook potatoes and green beans together with the pasta, to be seasoned with pesto together with the pasta, making it an even more delicious dish, in perfect agreement with tradition


Leave Comments



Your comment