Mary Ann's Blog

Basil, King of Herbs

My basil is coming along nicely now and it will not be long before I make pesto. In Liguria from where this sauce is king, it is traditionally made with a mortar and a pestle and is where the name basil comes from, from the word to pound down, pestare. Coarse salt, a garlic clove, pine nuts or walnuts and good extra virgin olive oil are the key ingredients for this uncooked sauce. Photo below is from a basil farm in Liguria that I visited just recently. Tricks to making it include using the smallest leaves possible; they take less time to pound down which results in less bruising which allows the color to stay a vibrant green.

You can find a recipe for pesto in my latest book Ciao Italia Family Classics and on line at


  1. Suzy's avatar


    I have watched often and have seen you herald the goodness of pesto. This year I decided to grow 2 plants on my condo balcony just so I could make some and they are ready to harvest. Besides linguini with pesto what else should I have with my meal?

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