During your holiday weekend, try making a classic Pasta with Pesto from Christopher Columbus’ hometown of Genoa in the province of Liguria.
50g basil leaves, preferably the variety grown in Liguria and only small leaves from young plants, no stems; half cup extra virgin olive oil from Liguria; 6 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese and 2 tablespoons of Pecorino DOP cheese; 2 Italian garlic cloves; 1 tablespoon pine nuts; a couple of granules of coarse salt.
Use a marble mortar and wooden pestle. All ingredients should be at room temperature.
Wash the basil leaves with cold water and dry well with a clean cloth. Crush the garlic in the mortar. Add a couple of granules of salt and crush. Add about 30 basil leaves and crush.
The oils and aroma of the basil are in the veins of the leaves, so don’t be aggressive when crushing; use a gentle, rotating motion. Keep at it, adding a few more leaves at a time and the pine nuts, again not all at once! Add the cheese, one spoon at a time, alternating with a drizzle of olive oil until you’ve included all the ingredients.
Use it as a sauce for pasta, put some into a minestrone or try it instead of a stock cube in other dishes. Variations on the theme include substituting the pine nuts with walnuts.