Basic Basil Pesto Recipe

I've encouraged you to try a flavorful and wonderfully aromatic pesto, so here is my recipe entry. It's basic but delicious. You can find all the ingredients at your local market with the possible exception of the pine nuts. They're more popular than they used to be, so try the gourmet section or the baking aisle where they keep the other nuts.

Pesto is best fresh, but you can freeze it in a pinch. As an alternative to marinara sauce, it's beyond indulgent and at it's very best when the basil leaves are fresh from your very own garden.

You can whip up a batch in ten minutes or less with your handy dandy food processor.

Basil Pesto Recipe


2 cups fresh, tightly packed basil leaves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (High quality - not the shaker stuff)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoon pine nuts (You can also use walnuts)
2 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Basic Pesto Instructions

The goal is to combine all of the ingredients into a fine paste. To do this without clumps and unprocessed bits, it's best to break the work into batches. Try separating all the ingredients into thirds or quarters. Add a third of the basil leaves, cheese, nuts, garlic, spices and oil and then pulse and blend. Once that's pretty well incorporated, add the second batch and repeat. Add the third batch. You can use a blender or food processor, whatever works for you. Just keep stirring down the sides to get everything well blended. The oil is viscous and will help incorporate everything.

Special notes: For pesto, it's nice to use a quality olive oil that has a distinctive olive flavor. If you use a non-olive flavored olive-oil for general cooking purposes, now's the time to splurge on the good stuff. Look for oil that’s tinged green and has a strong olivey aroma.

This is a slight cheat, but I will sometimes add a tablespoon or two of avocado oil as part of the olive oil requirement. The result seems richer and creamier to me -- just a suggestion. I also like to add a scraping of nutmeg.

Another useful cheat is to add a couple of tablespoons of mashed potato.  It'll make a creamy sauce that will stay green and luscious longer.

Yes, there is a lot of oil, but it's good-for-you oil. If you want to try a classic regional dish that will make the most of your months slaving in the herb patch, this one is it.

Use pesto on pasta or as a spread on crusty bread.


  1. A friend froze her pesto in ice cube trays, then in freezer bags after they were frozen for easier access out of the freezer and into her dishes.


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