Basil Pesto

Nothing screams summer like a batch of homemade pesto and it’s a perennially favorite in our house.  I thank the Genovese people for inventing it and while there are variations on the original recipe, I’m a traditionalist.


Pesto is most often served over pasta, but it’s also delicious when tossed with parboiled new potatoes or string beans and as a base layer on pizza. Try smearing a layer on whole grain toast and then add a crushed avocado on top for breakfast or a snack.

The health benefits of pesto:

  • Olive oil in pesto sauce is full of a heart-healthy fats called monounsaturated fats or MUFAs. Replacing unhealthy saturated and trans fats in your diet with beneficial MUFAs can improve your health.
  • Basil in pesto sauce adds plenty of phytochemicals to your diet. Basil offers flavonoid phytochemicals called orientin and vicenin. These phytochemical nutrients act like antioxidants.
Basil Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1.5 cups
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves picked from the stems
  • 1 tablespoon pignoli nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Remove leaves from the stems and wash well, being sure to rinse off any dirt, and then spin dry in a salad spinner. Add to the bowl of the food processor.
  2. Add the pignoli nuts, garlic, cheese, and grated cheese Parmesan cheese. Cover and pulse until the leaves are all chopped. You may need to open the bowl and push the leaves down to get them all chopped.
  3. Replace the cover and turn on the processor. While running add ¼ cup of olive oil and mix until it forms a paste. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator (should last a week), or freeze it to use later. If you place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of it and tuck it into the edges of the container, it helps to keep the pesto from discoloring on the top. Just before serving, toss with your favorite pasta or vegetables and enjoy the rich, intense flavor of this wonderous sauce.
Use ¾ of a cup of pesto for each pound of pasta. I like to toss it right before serving.

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