cinque terre passion for pesto

italian pastaItalians are passionate about their food – and with good reason!  Every region gives you a special taste of Italy, and the Cinque Terre in the provence of La Specia is no exception…

“I was on an Intrepid trip in May [2008].  When we were in Levanto, Italy, our wonderful leader Kriztina arranged a pesto cooking class for us.  Six of us attended – it was amazing – we spoke no Italian, our teacher didn’t speak English, but with a bottle of wine and cheese and biscuits to help, she managed to teach all of us (with a lot of laughs and hand gestures) to make the most fabulous pesto.  It was a great way to end our first afternoon on the Cinque Terre.” Gerry Martin

So if you want to try this delicious sauce at home, here’s the secret ingredients…

Pesto sauce

  • 4 cups basil leaves, well packed and dried after washing
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 1 cup pine nuts or walnuts (or a combination of the two)
  • 1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese (or a combination of the two)
  • 1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Place basil leaves and garlic in a traditional mortar and pestle, or use a more modern food processor or blender, and pound or process until leaves are finely chopped. Sprinkle with a little salt, add nuts and process until finely chopped.
    Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. After the oil is incorporated, add the grated cheese and season to taste with a little more salt and pepper.

    You can store in an air-tight container with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep the sauce from turning dark. Pesto will keep well in the refrigerator for a week or more. This recipe yields approximately 3-1/2 to 4 cups.

    For a stronger flavour – you can increase the quantity of garlic and Pecorino cheese, plus varying the amount of olive oil will thicken or thin the consistency.

    Buon appetito!

    Tour Italy with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
    Cinque Terre – 8 days self-guided walk
    A Taste of Italy – 15 days

    About the author

    Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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