Pesto Genovese (Classic Basil Pesto)

For a long time, we've been thinking about making pesto. For one, we love it, but also we bought these bags of massive (and I mean, massive) fusilli and penne pasta shapes, that we needed to start getting rid of. One of the hardest things to do with giant pasta shapes, though, is to decide how to prepare them. Now, with penne, you can stuff it with cheese and bake it with a wee bit of tomato (and/or meat) sauce. Being in a college-like or in other words ill-equipped kitchen in Hong Kong, though, means that there is no such thing as an oven to bake said goodness in.

Way too much sunlight!
So, pesto had to come to the rescue, but honestly, who's gonna complain? It was really really good! Unlike most things we generally cook though, this turned out to be more expensive to make at home than to buy out in the supermarket, but it was well worth it. The taste of the herbs was very fresh and very nutty (we added more pine nuts than necessary, really). Definitely something to make again, especially because it is so easy and simple to make! Perfect for lazy folks like me!

All the ingredients mentioned below are approximates. We pretty much went by the handful, adding more or taking away what tastes we wanted more or less of, respectively. If you like a bit more herby flavour, add more basil, and so on!

Ease of Cooking Yummy Factor Apprx. Cost
HK$65 (US$8)
Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 handfuls basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 25g Parmesan-reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fusilli, cooked till al dente

  1. Wash basil leaves, pat-dry them with a paper towel, and coarsely chop them.
  2. Roast pine nuts by adding them to a frying pan over medium-high heat. Continuously shake the pan, or stir, until they start getting a bit of colour and you can smell them. Careful not to let them burn!
  3. Take half of each of the ingredients and put them in a chopper or food processor, or if you want to be more traditional, in a mortar. Grind until you achieve your desired texture. 
  4. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Mix both mixtures together. Taste and add whatever else you need before mixing again. 
  6. Add pesto to a saucepan and heat slightly. Add cooked fusilli on top and stir until all of it is coated with your yummy green mix. Serve hot with an extra drizzle of olive oil, and, if you like, a light grating of Parmesan!

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