Trenette Al Pesto – Trenette With Pesto

Trofie al pesto – Adriano CC BY-SA 3.0

Trenette Al Pesto – Trenette With Pesto


1 pound trenette
2 To 3 – cups fresh basil leaves
Three tablespoon Pine nuts
Two cloves garlic
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated

How to make the Trenette al Pesto:

Pesto”: the word pesto means “pounded,” as traditionally pesto was made by grinding the ingredients together by hand in a marble mortar and pestle.

To make the pesto, place all ingredients except oil and pasta in a marble mortar—the process to a puree. While processing in the mortar, gradually add oil until absorbed. Toss with the trenette. Serve hot. If you don’t have a marble mortar, use a food processor or blender, the resulting pesto will be delicious also, even if not at the same level of high culinary delight.

To preserve pesto for a long time: you can freeze the pesto, prepared without the parmesan cheese, in small plastic cups, Tupperware containers, or ice cube trays. Keep the pesto in the freezer until you need it. Then, when you need to use it, bring the frozen pesto to room temperature, add the Parmesan cheese, and your pesto is ready to toss over hot pasta!

A bit of history of Italian cuisine:

For centuries, Ligurian sailors plied the seas as part of the spice trade, bringing Europe the Far East and Africa’s exotic products. However, when they returned from their long, arduous voyages, the sailors had had their fill of fish and spicy food. Instead, they wanted fare that spoke of their homeland, made from vegetables fresh from the gardens and farms that cling to the Ligurian hillsides. As a result, the dish that is now most closely identified with this region is pasta al pesto, noodles bathed in an intensely green and fragrant sauce.

The pesto recipe took the form we know in the mid-nineteenth century: the recipe first appears in writing in the Ratto brothers’ 1865 Cuciniera Genovese, where it is described as “pesto is a mince of garlic and basil” and used as a sauce with which “to dress all varieties of pasta.”

Ligurians almost make a religion of their devotion to pesto sauce and its main ingredient, fresh basil. While they generally favor fresh herbs in their cooking, basil inspires the most interest.  There is, however, no uniformity of opinion as to the best pesto recipes or their best uses. Every village, and probably every family, has its recipe for pesto sauce and its favorite pasta shape to use with the sauce. For example, the Genoese prefer a sharp, spicy pesto sauce with ravioli filled with veal and cheese.

On the other hand, many people opt for a mild pesto sauce, sometimes with cream or butter added. The preferred “pasta al pesto” is a trenette, a plump local linguine version in many areas. They dispense with the pasta in other regions and add the pesto to their local version of minestrone or fish soup.

The raw ingredients of pesto sauce are common to all these recipes: fresh basil leaves, cheese (either Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino), pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. The great debate, and the great fun, about pesto, is deciding on the proper proportions to combine these ingredients and add any extras. Ultimately, you can make pesto that suits your tastes exactly, just like every cook in Liguria, with some experimentation.

One thing to remember: to make an authentic pesto, you need to use a marble mortar, try yourself, and you will see the difference in the pesto.

Serves 6

Trenette Al Pesto – Trenette With Pesto is a Regional recipe from Liguria.

Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

You can reach Enrico at