The king of Italian sauces
It is fresh and scented, ideal for summer, and it is undoubtedly one of the most beloved pasta condiments ever.
PDO basil from Genoa, Vessalico garlic, sea salt from Trapani, PDO Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Fiore Sardo Pecorino cheese, as well as the best Italian extra virgin olive oil. If you fancy a more delicate flavour, there is also a pesto version with no garlic.
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How is Genoa pesto sauce made? And what’s its story like? Let’s talk about its origins, first. Pesto originated at least three centuries ago. The first pesto recipe allegedly dates back to 1852, when Emanuele Rossi explained how to make pesto with garlic and basil in his book "Vera Cuciniera Genovese" (recipe book about real Genoa cuisine).
The main ingredients – you’ve guessed it – were garlic, basil and olive oil, of course. There was actually no Parmigiano Reggiano cheese which was too expensive and difficult to find back in the day; instead, Pecorino cheese made by shepherds in the Ligurian Apennines near Genoa was used.
There’s no denying that pesto was influenced by the cuisine of the Provence. People from Genoa have surely taken inspiration from pistou, a traditional sauce from Southern France made from basil, garlic and olive oil, and rightly so, dare we say!
Do you know that there is a world championship of Genoa pesto sauce made in a mortar? Each year pesto professionals and pesto lovers compete against the backdrop of the marvellous Doge’s palace in Genoa.
That’s right, traditional Genoa pesto sauce is made in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. If, however, you’re not in the mood to toil, don’t worry, we are coming to your rescue: Genoa pesto sauce by Rossi 1947 is ready to serve and delicious!
Now let’s see how we can use this pesto, apart from pasta, of course. Here you can find some delicious and innovative recipes enhancing the unique flavour of this exceptional sauce.
Savoury cheesecake with Genoa pesto sauce
It is a fresh and original starter that is sure to impress and doesn’t even require cooking. For the cheesecake crust, you can use Taralli, crackers or even stale bread.
Ingredients (for a 18cm/7-inch springform tin)
For the cheesecake crust:
For the cheesecake filling:
250g Ricotta cow’s cheese
250g Robiola cheese
50g Grana padano cheese
100g Pesto sauce
Grind the Taralli, melt the butter and blend well. Pack the mixture onto the bottom of the tin and level the surface with a spoon, then let it cool down in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Prepare the cream: mix the Ricotta, Robiola, Grana Padano and pesto until well blended. Take the tin from the fridge, pour the cream on top, smooth the surface out and put in the fridge again for at least 2 hours.
To jazz up the recipe, add some tomato confit. Wash and cut in half 200g of cherry tomatoes and place them in a baking tray with the cut side facing up. Sprinkle salt, pepper, oil, thyme and a spoonful of cane sugar and bake in the oven at 120 °C for one hour and a half.
Place the tomatoes on the cheesecake and serve. The success is guaranteed!
Focaccia flatbread with Genoa pesto
Just like a normal focaccia flatbread, but much tastier. Pesto is added both in the dough and as a condiment and the flavour is truly enveloping.
1 pinch of sugar
10g table salt
20g extra virgin olive oil
15g fresh brewer’s yeast
100g Genoa pesto sauce
Cherry tomatoes to taste
Basil leaves to taste
Put water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and mix well to dissolve the yeast. Add the flour little by little and mix with your hands. Add the oil, half the pesto and the salt, too, and knead until you obtain a firm dough; add some flour, if necessary.
Place the dough in a bowl covered with a clean tea towel that has been wetted and wrung and leave it to rise in a cold oven for a couple of hours. Afterwards, take the dough out and stretch it out on a well-oiled oven tray.
Brush the surface with the remaining pesto, then place the basil leaves and the cherry tomatoes on the flatbread, by gently pressing them with your fingers onto the dough; bake in a preheated oven at 200 °C for 25 minutes.
Omelette with Genoa pesto sauce
Got home late and don’t feel like cooking? This omelette is very quick and extremely easy to make, but it has a truly exceptional flavour. Serve with radish salad with walnuts to kick the dish up a notch.
Ingredients (serves four):
Genoa pesto sauce (3 tablespoons)
70g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and oil to taste
Whisk the eggs with a fork, then add Parmigiano cheese and Genoa pesto sauce. Season with salt and cook in a non-stick pan with a thread of olive oil. When the omelette is uniform in colour, flip it over and cook the other side.
That’s it - told you that it was simple.
Chicken roulades with Genoa pesto
Another easy and tasty recipe that even kids will love. You can eat them plain or add Mozzarella cheese, sundried tomatoes or ham to the filling.
Ingredients (serves four):
800g sliced chicken breast
Garlic, salt and oil to taste
Tenderise the chicken with a meat mallet, spread one spoonful of pesto on each slice, roll the roulade and tie with twine.
Sauté the garlic in a pan with a thread of olive oil until brown, then add the roulades and cook for roughly ten minutes, flipping them once in a while. Serve with cherry tomatoes and there you have a nutritious, healthy and delicious lunch.