The popularity of pesto – a traditional Genovese sauce made with basil, garlic and pine nuts blended with extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan and pecorino cheese – has spread from Ligurian trattorias to restaurants and delicatessens worldwide, making it one of the most popular food dressings in the world. Traditionally made in small batches by Italian mammas as a complement for pasta, gnocchi or soup, pesto is today the third most produced sauce in the world – after ketchup and mayonnaise – according to the Italian Culinary Academy based in New York…
Traditional Genovese pesto
4 bunches of basil (approx 65g of leaves)
30g Italian pine nuts
45g grated Parmesan cheese
20g-40g (to taste) grated Pecorino cheese
1-2 (to taste) cloves of garlic
One pinch of coarse sea salt
70ml extra virgin olive oil
A marble mortar with a wooden pestle are the best tools. Clean the basil leaves in a bowl of water and dry carefully.
Place the garlic and pine nuts in the mortar and crush. When the ingredients reach a smooth almost creamy texture add sea salt and the basil leaves. Mash the basil leaves with smooth, circular movements. When the mix turns bright green, add the Pecorino and Parmesan.
Drizzle the olive oil to bind all the flavours. Finally, stir quickly to avoid as much discoloration as possible.
Homemade potato gnocchi
Boil the potatoes in their skin. When tender peel and mash them while still warm. Sprinkle with flour and knead to blend.
Dust work surface lightly with flour. Take a small piece of the dough, roll a small cylinder no larger than 2cm wide. Cut into 3cm long pieces and press at the centre with thumb and roll to make an indent.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add the gnocchi. They cook quickly in 5 minutes. Gnocchi are considered to be ready when they float to the surface.