Lasagne alla Portofino – pesto lasagne

Not yet rated

This lasagne alla Portofino recipe hails from Liguria and contains layers of pasta, homemade basil pesto and a creamy béchamel sauce. Topped with extra Parmesan and some pine nuts for crunch, it's the ultimate in comfort food. Use a vegetarian Parmesan substitute to easily make the dish vegetarian.

First published in 2020

Also known as lasagne al pesto, this dish hails from the small fishing town of Portofino near Genoa (the birthplace of pesto alla Genovese) in the northern Italian region of Liguria.




Pesto alla genovese

  • 50g of pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 40g of Parmesan, finely grated
  • 100g of basil
  • 150ml of olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • salt
  • pepper


  • 50g of flour
  • 50g of unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 750ml of whole milk, warmed
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 dash of white wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper


Begin by making the pesto. Toast the pine nuts in a hot dry pan until lightly golden and shiny from the natural oils. This should take a few minutes – don't let them burn otherwise they'll taste bitter
Add the nuts to a blender along with the Parmesan, garlic, basil, oil and lemon zest and blend to a rough paste (you could also do this in a pestle and mortar). Taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice until you're happy with the flavour. Set aside
Next, make the béchamel. Heat the butter and flour in a pan and stir to create a paste (this is called a roux). Cook out the roux for a minute or so to avoid a floury taste in your sauce
Add the bay leaf then slowly pour in the warm milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. The bechamel will start to thicken up after a few minutes. Taste and season with nutmeg, vinegar, salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 whilst you assemble the lasagne
Choose an ovenproof dish which fits the lasagne sheets (or trim the sheets accordingly). Cover the base with pasta, followed by pesto, then bechamel (discarding the bay leaf in the sauce), repeating this pattern until everything is used up and there is a layer of bechamel on the top. Season each layer with a small pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper as you go
Once layered, sprinkle the top with finely grated Parmesan and some pine nuts. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden on top, then serve

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.