Pesto Sauce (Pessto Sace)

Written By Lucy Pinder on Friday, September 11, 2009 | 7:21 PM



  • 30-40 Basil leaves (from a young plant)
  • 1 Clove of garlic for every 30 basil leaves
  • 30 g (just a bit more than 1 oz) Pine nuts
  • 40 g (1 ½ oz) Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30 g (just a bit more than 1 oz) Freshly grated Pecorino sardo cheese
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt for seasoning

Note: if you cannot stand the garlic, or you think that the garlic flavour would override the basil flavour, then do not use garlic, but you cannot call it “pesto” anymore!

About the extra virgin olive oil, preferably use olive oil from the Liguria region of Italy. This is renowned for its sweet and fruity flavour, thus ideal for pesto.

Last but not least, pick the basil leaves from a young plant (about 20 cm- 8 inches high). Using a mature plant with big and thick leaves, especially if in flower, will make the pesto taste quite herbaceous or even bitter.


Gently wash the basil leaves, paying attention not to crunch them.

Lay the basil leaves onto kitchen paper and let them to dry. DO NOT press or pat the leaves with kitchen paper but leave them to dry naturally.

Cut the clove of garlic longways through its centre, remove and dispose the shoot. Then, roughly chop the clove into a few pieces.

Firstly, add the pine nuts. The reason we process them first is that they require more time and a high speed to break up properly. We do not want to add the basil at this stage otherwise it will be over blended and the heat generated by the friction may alter the colour and fragrance of the basil.

Once you have blended the pine nuts, add the basil leaves into the blender jug.

Also, add the garlic.

Start blending, at low speed (if you can adjust the speed of course), and at the same time gradually pour in the olive oil.

Add a small quantity of salt to season.

Add the Pecorino sardo cheese.

Add the Parmesan cheese.

Now, blend again for a few seconds and then you will have your pesto sauce.

Put the pesto into a large bowl, add a spoonful of the boiling water you are using to boil the pasta and then add your drained pasta into the bowl. Stir for few seconds until the pasta is evenly coated and serve.

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