Pesto originated in the Liguria region of northwest Italy, which is home to what is called the Italian Riviera. To make authentic Genovese pesto (Genoa is Liguria’s capitol), you should try to seek out Pecorino Fiore Sardo – a hard-to-find sheep’s milk cheese that is critical to making real Ligurian pesto. It is available here in Utah at Caputor’s Market. Traditionally, Genovese pesto was made using a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients. That’s why it’s called “pesto.” However, most cooks these days simplify the process by using a blender or food processor. One great thing about pesto is that it requires no heating or cooking!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- ¾ tsp. Kosher salt
- ⅓ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Pecorino Fiore Sardo cheese (or substitute ½ cup Pecorino Romano)
- 3 Tbsp butter, softened
- Rinse the basil leaves under cold water or in a salad spinner. Blot the basil dry with paper towels or spin dry in the spinner.
- Place the basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and salt into a food processor bowl or blender. Process the mixture until you have a creamy consistency. If the mixture is too dry, add a splash more olive oil and pulse a little more.
- Empty the basil puree into a bowl.
- Mix the two cheeses into the bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Then, add the softened butter and mix until it is also thoroughly incorporated.
Serve the pesto tossed with your favorite pasta, as a spread for bruschetta, on fish or meat, or dozens of other ways.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.