Italian pesto

Yesterday afternoon, my Nonno (grandfather in Italian) passed away from a heart attack.  My parents were in Florida visiting him when it happened, I was here at home. Even though he hasn’t been doing well lately, it still wasn’t expected to happen so suddenly.  And as one usually feels in these situations, I wish I had had the chance to see him and say goodbye.

Family PhotoFresh Basil

As a mini-tribute to him, here are a few memories and tidbits about him, I will never forget:

  • His love of calamari fritti, Scottish shortbread, and Peking Duck.  While they definitely don’t go hand in hand, whenever I think of these foods, I always think of him.
  • 100% Italian.  Born and bred.
  • Speaker of 5 languages.
  • Visiting his house in Maine (picture above) when I was younger, going tad pole fishing, and eating lobster.
  • The artist.  He loved carving, making antique frames, and designing houses.
  • Bouncing me up and down in his lap when I was younger.
  • The man who loved a good deal.  He loved the store Marden’s and would buy any quantity of anything if it was on sale!  He even bought my dad light-up slippers once and a brown corduroy tie!
  • Not always politically correct.  But always amusing.

And last but not least, bringing us blocks and blocks of Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy, as well as mason Jars full of homemade Italian pesto.  So in his honor, and because I know he would have appreciated this meal himself, that is exactly what I made last night.

Comfort food at its very best.

How to Make Italian Pesto

Italian pesto

Traditional Italian Pesto

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Traditional Italian pesto made with fresh Genovese basil, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and pine nuts.


  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts optional
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • Add garlic cloves to food processor and pulse until well minced. Add the pine nuts, basil leaves, and olive oil and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. If needed, add more olive oil. Stir in the grated cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 182kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 246mg, Fiber: 1g