This is one of many recipes you can find for pesto — it’s a simple thing to make (assuming you have a food processor to do the chopping for you) but great to have on hand to serve with summer tomatoes, winter soups, grilled meats, and sandwiches.  So versatile and adds a burst of summer basil flavor to everything. My favorite pairings are with summer heirloom tomatoes and as a topping on my  minestrone soup.

Classic Pesto

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 cups basil leaves, washed and mostly dry
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt


  1. Using a food processor, blend first 4  ingredients, pausing to scrape down the sides as needed.
  2. Add cheese and salt, then blend again.
  3. Test for flavor, adding salt as needed (flavor will vary depending on how salty the parmesan is). Pulse to blend.
  4. Ready to serve, or keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Lessons Learned/Advice:

  • I always pre-mince the garlic just to make sure it’s fully blended without over-blending the basil, but I’m guessing that you could put the cloves in whole and it would be fine.
  • This recipe can also be made using a blender; the texture will be a little different since the blender adds in more air than a food processor. You may need to stop a few times during blending to push down the basil.
  • If you are keeping it in a jar in the fridge, top it with a thin layer of olive oil to help keep it bright green.
  • If you don’t think you will use it all within a week, try freezing it in small batches. One easy way to freeze is to use an ice cube tray (one you don’t need for making ice ever again as it may flavor the tray).  Fill the ice cube tray with pesto leaving space for expansion as it freezes. Once frozen, remove the cubes and place them in a freezer zip lock and keep up to 3 months (longer in a deep freeze).
  • The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo or Parmesan. I’m sure this could enhance the flavor, but I’m a weekday chef and I like short cuts like pre-grated Parmesan or romano cheese.  Let me know if you experiment and how it changes it.
  • Feel free to experiment with different greens (like watercress and parsley) and different nuts (walnuts? almonds?). Let me know how it turns out.


Thanks for Epicurious for sharing this Classic Pesto recipe from Bon Appetit