Pesto Recipe & Pesto World Championship

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The Championship

Did you know that there is such a thing as a Pesto World Championship? Competitors from all over the world prepare Pesto Genovese exclusively with a pestle and mortar, using only traditional, authentic and genuine ingredients. The competition is open to everyone: professionals and amateur cooks.

A series of preliminary eliminatory competitions take place before the final event, at the end of which a World Champion is crowned and awarded with a “Golden Pestle”. The next Grand Finale is scheduled for 16 April 2016 in Genoa’s Palazzo Ducale.

One of such preliminary challenges, leading up to the VI edition of the Genoa Pesto World Championship, took place in Portovenere on 20 August 2015. Among the 10 competitors, Francesco Sbrana – a doctor from Livorno, Tuscany – won a place in the final.

Watch the action in Portovenere:

Other preliminary competitions already took place in Paris, Vitoria, Milan, Brescia and Padua. Upcoming locations during fall 2015 include Belfast and Bergen

Do you have what it takes to make the perfect pesto sauce? If you would like to take a shot and participate, you can find the calendar of events and registration forms on

About Pesto

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, in the Liguria region. The sauce is traditionally prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. The basic pesto recipe includes crushed garlic, basil, pine nutes, olive oil, Parmigiano and Pecorino.

The organizer of the championship, the Palatifini Cultural Association, has launched a survey to learn more about popular knowledge on the sauce and on the use of the marble mortar. If you would like to contribute with your experience, you can answer the survey here.

Pesto Recipe: marble Mortar and wood Pestle required!
Authentic Pesto: marble Mortar and wood Pestle required! Image from Genoa Pesto World Championship on Facebook

The Palatifini Association, along with the Region of Liguria, the Chamber of Commerce of Genoa and the Genoa City Council, are on a quest to include the authentic Genoese Pesto Made by Marble Mortar into UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. The official nomination presentation will take place on 11 September 2015 at Expo Milano.

Pesto Recipe

There are (too) many pesto variations, but the Palatifini Cultural Association has published the official pesto recipe for the championship. It involves the exclusive use of quality products, including the Genoese Basil and the extra-virgin olive oil from the Ligurian Riviera, both of which have beeb protected by the European Union with the Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) or Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certification.

Mortar-made pesto recipe as approved by the Pesto World Championship!


  • 4 bunches of fresh PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoese basil, which guarantees high-quality taste and flavour
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 445-60 g aged Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 20-40 g Fiore Sardo cheese (Pecorino Sardo), grated
  • 1-2 garlic cloves from Vassalico (Imperia)
  • 10 g coarse salt
  • 60-80 cc PDO extra-virgin olive oil from the “Italian Riviera”, renowned for its sweet and fruity taste, which adds flavour to the basil and dressing.


  • The marble mortar and wooden pestle are the tools traditionally used to make pesto.
  • Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a tea towel but don’t rub them.
  • In a mortar finely crush the garlic clove and pine nuts until they are smooth. Add a few grains of salt and the non-pressed basil leaves, then pound the mixture using a light circular movement of the pestle against the sides.
  • Repeat this process.
  • When the basil drips bright green liquid, add the Parmesan cheese and the Fiore sardo cheese.
  • Pour in a thin layer of PDO extra-virgin olive oil from the Italian Riviera, which lightly blends the ingredients without overdoing.
  • The preparation must be done as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation problems.

This is not the only possible way to make pesto. In Genoa and Liguria each person has a secret to this recipe: you will never find two cups of pesto that are the same! How do you usually cook pesto? Have you tried this official recipe? Share your experiences and pesto love in the comments!

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