Basil Pesto Recipe

This Basil Pesto Recipe will taste best if you make it the day before as this allows the flavors to blend. That will also take the ‘edge’ off the garlic flavor. I usually make my pesto without exactly measuring the ingredients, but for the recipe below, I kept track of what I was doing for giving more exact proportions. There are no strict rules for making pesto – just do what you like best!


3 tightly-packed cups fresh basil leaves (approximately 3 ounces) (Use the younger and smaller basil leaves for best flavor.)

2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons pine nuts (pignolia), toasted

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt or sea salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup grated parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese


Toast the pine nuts in a small heavy pot or frying pan over low heat, stirring frequently until golden, approximately 4 to 5 minutes (watch carefully as the pine nuts can burn easily). I always toast more pine nuts that I need in this recipe and then freeze the extra ones for later batches of pesto.

Wash the basil leaves in cold water, discard the stems, and dry thoroughly on paper towels (don’t rub them). Also peel off any thick spines from any larger basil leaves. I use my salad spinner for washing and drying the basil leaves.

In a blender or food processor, add garlic, toasted pine nuts, and salt; process for approximately 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture from the sides of the bowl. Add basil leaves, lemon juice, and olive oil, using the pulse technique, turning on and off, to shred the basil. A single batch works well in a blender, but use a food processor for larger batches.

Blend in the cheese. Now taste and see if you’d like to add some more of any of the ingredients to your liking. For example if you’d like your pesto to be thinner, add some extra virgin olive oil.

Makes 2 cups pesto.

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