The Basilico Genovese PDO refers to the fresh aromatic plant belonging to the Ocimum basilicum L. species, deriving from ecotypes or indigenous selections.
Production can take place in a protected environment or in open fields. In the first case, the sowing and harvesting can be done year-round, on the condition that there is constant daily ventilation that guarantees air exchange within the local greenhouses; this cultivation method can be carried out both on benches and directly in the ground. For cultivation on benches, the soil must be taken from the area where the farm is. No form of covering is used in open field cultivation and sowing takes place in spring, while harvesting is carried out between June and September. The seeds are planted by hand at a depth of half a centimetre, in pre-arranged trenches known as tacche.
Appearance and Flavour
Basilico Genovese PDO can be recognised by its medium-small, convex and oval-shaped leaves, as well as its characteristic pale green colour. The height of the plant ranges from medium to very tall. It has a particularly delicate fragrance and no minty hints.
The production area of Basilico Genovese PDO is within the territory of the Tyrrhenian side of the Liguria region.
Basilico Genovese PDO has ancient origins: the Egyptians considered it a sacred plant; Latin authors, especially Pliny the Elder, enthused about its numerous qualities. The name derives from the Greek basilèus, which means “King”, or to be more precise, from its adjective basilikón, which means “of the King or regal”, confirming that it has always been a prestigious herb. The plant was introduced into the Mediterranean and consequently Liguria, by the Romans. In ancient times, it was used for its legendary curative properties, becoming an ingredient in cooking later on. The original nucleus for production was limited to the Genoa area, eventually spreading into the entire coastal area of Liguria.
Basilico Genovese PDO can be kept for a few days in a cool place, wrapped in slightly moist paper. Only fresh and dried leaves are used. It is the main ingredient in the preparation of pesto, which is synonymous and symbolic of the city of Genoa and the entire Liguria region; it is made by grinding the basil in a mortar or low speed blender, together with garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pine nuts and pecorino or grana cheese. Pesto is mainly used as a pasta sauce or in Genoese minestrones, although it can also be used in various other dishes and focaccia. It is perfect combined with eggs in omelettes, with fish, in particular mullet and crayfish, and with Mediterranean vegetables such as aubergines, courgettes, peppers and, above all, tomatoes. The dried leaves can also be used in sauces and casseroles. It is best to sprinkle Basilico Genovese PDO into dishes at the last minute, such as on pizzas, as it conserves its exceptional flavour.
The product is marketed as Basilico Genovese PDO. It is sold fresh in small bunches containing three to ten whole plants and in big bunches, known as a bouquet, containing the equivalent of 10 small bunches. When it is destined for transformation, the plants are sold whole, with a maximum of four pairs of leaves. It is also used as a processed product, above all as the main ingredient for Pesto Genovese made with Basilico Genovese PDO.
Only the Ligurian hills can provide the ideal environment that Basilico Genovese PDO needs to obtain its unique organoleptic qualities, which are immediately recognisable in the intense aroma that, unlike other plants cultivated in the area, is mint-free.