Italian Culinary Treasures: Genoa Basil and a Pesto Recipe

Still cultivated in the original Genoa region, this Italian basil is know for its delicate scent, ideal when creating a heavily herbed recipe like pesto.

Italian Culinary Treasures: Genoa Basil and a Pesto Recipe

The basil, introduced by the Romans in the Mediterranean, was first cultivated in Genoa (the Liguria Region in Northern Italy) in the nineteenth century.

The environmental conditions of this area allowed them to grow a plant with characteristics impossible to found in other Italian regions. Its leaves contain essential oils that give its unique aroma and flavor, and earned it the PDO certification.

Basil is traditionally grown both in heated greenhouses and farms. Depending on the season, it takes from 20 to 60 days to be ready for harvest. Since it is a product in great demand, the cultivation area has been extended to the entire coast of Liguria but it is Pra, the hilly district of Genoa, where the climate is ideal to grown the basil with the best qualities. The climate, proximity to the sea, sun, ventilation and the attention the farmers give to basil grown in Pra, creates the green leaf of small-medium sized, oval and convex, whose scent is delicate.

Today, in Liguria, the basil cultivation in greenhouses is especially characteristic of the territories of Genoa and of the West, while open field growing is mainly concentrated in the areas of Albenga, La Spezia and Sarzana.

Pesto alla Genovese
 
This is one of the most classic Pesto recipes with garlic. Increasingly garlic is omitted but its taste really make special a basil pesto recipe.
Author:
Recipe Type: Side, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Over pasta, served 4
Ingredients
  • 50 g (2 oz) basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • a handful of pine nuts
  • 75 g (3 oz) Parmigiano cheese
  • 50 g (2 oz) Pecorino cheese
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Wash and dry the basil (if organic clean with a soft cloth), gently because if the leaves break will be blackened and make bitter the taste of pesto.
  2. Put all the ingredients together and blend at low speed, each time for a few seconds, do not raise the temperature of the mixture and avoid the ingredients to oxidize.
  3. You can store the pesto in the refrigerator up to ten days, covered with olive oil on the surface, or freeze it.

 

Veronica Lavenia

Veronica is a born and raised Italian. She inherited her love for travel, passion for cooking and natural, sustainable, healthy slow food from her parents. Her works have appeared in 'Vegetarian Living', 'Veggie Magazine', 'Lifestyle food', 'Australian Good Food & Travel Guide', 'Chickpea' and 'Free from Heaven', among others. She is the author of "Panini: the simple tastes of Italian style bread"; 'The Rustic Italian bakery", "The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen" and "A Modern Italian table", published by New Holland Publishers Australia.

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