Serves 4 to 6

Makes about 1 cup, which is perfect for a pound of pasta

Basil Pesto

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Adapted from Lidia Caveri

¼ cup (30 grams) pine nuts

1 medium clove garlic, peeled

2 cups (70 grams) tightly packed basil leaves, preferably Genovese

⅔ cup (60 grams) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

⅓ cup (30 grams) finely grated pecorino, preferably pecorino sardo

Sea salt

⅓ cup (80 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 pound trofie or spaghetti


Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Use a mortar and pestle to pound and grind the pine nuts to a fine paste (no distinct pieces should be visible). Add the garlic and pound until smooth and integrated.

If the basil leaves are very large, run a knife through them once or twice to cut them down in size.  Add basil to pine nuts along with a pinch of salt, which will help break down the leaves. Continue pounding and grinding until the basil breaks down completely (if your mortar is small, pound the basil in batches), about 7 minutes. Once the nuts and basil combine into a thick green paste, stir in Parmesan, pecorino, and oil. Taste and adjust salt as needed.

Generously season water with salt. Cook pasta until al dente, then drain, reserving a cup of cooking water. (Tip: heat your serving bowl by using it as a lid for pasta pot)

Place cooked pasta in serving bowl and stir in pesto. Add splashes of cooking water and olive oil as needed to loosen the sauce and ensure the pasta is evenly coated. Garnish with Parmigiano and serve immediately.

Notes: Pesto can also be made in a food processor. Immerse any leftover pesto in olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.