The Ligurian city of Genova is the home of true pesto Genovese made with basil, salt, oil, garlic and pine nuts.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (10 votes)

Often pasta al pesto is called pasta alla Genovese, but while the origins may be the same the former is made with pesto and is a speciality of Genova in Liguria, and the latter made for braised beef or veal and is a speciality of Naples in Campania.


  • 500 g dried trofie or other short pasta
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-cm dice
  • 80 g baby green beans, trimmed

Pesto alla Genovese

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt, to season
  • 40 g (¼ cup) pine nuts
  • 125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50 g (½ cup) grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. For the pesto, place the basil and garlic in a mortar and season with salt. Grind to a paste, then add the pine nuts and continue to grind until the paste is smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time and continue to grind and emulsify, then stir through the parmesan.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and season with salt. Cook the trofie according to packet directions, adding the potato 10 minutes before the end of cooking time, and the green beans 3 minutes before the end of cooking. Drain, reserving 125 ml (½ cup) of the pasta water.
  3. Transfer the pasta, potato and beans to a bowl or large frying pan. Toss with the pesto, adding a little of the pasta water to emulsify. Transfer to a warm serving plate and serve with grated parmesan.


Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Danielle Abou Karam.