Back to basics. Pesto.

Pesto is so so good,  simple to make,  full of nutrition and packed with flavour.   I use a food processor but previously I used a stick blender.  You can make it with a mortar and pestle, it is just harder work!

Because pesto is so good and I seem able to grow basil reasonably well this is something I make often.  

Step 1.   Lightly roast some blanched almonds,  pine nuts,  cashews or other nuts.   Note:  if your family does not eat nuts skip this step!  (I would normally use a couple of cups.)   Many recipes say to use Pine Nuts.  These are outrageously expensive here and a cafe owner told me he always uses blanched almonds.   I tried this and it is just beautiful.

Step 2.  Collect a good sized bunch of basil.   You can supplement with mint, spinach or other greens.

Step 3.  Peel 8 or so good sized garlic cloves.  You can use less or more...

Step 4.  Put your garlic, nuts,  basil into your food processor and throw in some parmesan cheese. (I would use about 2 cups.)

Step 5.  Now pour in some olive oil and begin to blend in bursts.  Usually I can't fit all the basil in but as you blend space is made and I keep adding more or as much as I have. 

Step 6.  Gradually add olive oil until you have a dip like consistency.  

Step 7.  Pesto will keep a couple of weeks in the fridge. It also freezes perfectly.

Now to use it.   A pot of hot cooked pasta... stir through a generous amount of pesto and serve with some parmesan.   OR  in a pan warm some cream and stir the pesto through it,  throw in your cooked pasta and stir ... and then you have a creamy pesto pasta.

Or use pesto as the base on a pizza instead of tomato.  It is amazing.

Or serve with a steak and chips.

Add to a burger.

Cook some chicken...  add pesto into the pan and a carton of cream and stir until all heated and blended.  This is delicious served over rice with broccoli and carrots.

Anyone who has other ideas on how to use it please chime in.   

Every step to make this is beautiful as even picking the basil is such a lovely experience.  It smells so good.   Any stems should be saved as they will quickly form root systems if you pop them in water in a sunny window, ensuring more and more basil plants.

Happy Pesto making! xxx


  1. I use English walnuts in my pesto ( don't use black walnuts, they're too strong flavored). Sometimes I substitute parsley for the basil. It's delicious!

  2. Good morning! I make pesto every summer and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I pop out the cubes and use accordingly. I like to add it to spaghetti sauce for a pop of flavor. Kathleen

  3. I've made lasagna (without any tomato sauce) with pesto!

    Jarred pesto is outrageously expensive in the stores here.

    I don't always have an abundance of fresh basil so I'll use what I have and add spinach. I've used fresh & frozen spinach. I've also in a pinch used dried basil with spinach when I was craving something with pesto.

    I usually use walnuts as that's what I have on hand most often.

    I've made a pesto with white beans to replace some of the ingredients usually found in pesto. Not quite the same luxurious taste but works for some recipes that call for the pesto taste. I've used it on pizza.

    Pesto is one of those items that's so easy to make and really elevates cooking at home.

  4. Yum! Thanks for the tip about the almonds. I haven't made pesto because of the price of pine nuts. Now to wait for my basil to grow!

  5. Beautiful Annabel, I'm thinking of you in this year of firsts without Andy. So sad. Sending up prayers. This pesto looks beautiful. I think it also would be very tasty on grilled baguette bread, sliced up with a drizzle of olive oil spread over it, maybe with some chopped tomato and garlic ? A lovely little starter with a glass of wine if people come over !
    Love Sonia. Sydney' Australia

  6. Thank you, Annabel. This looks lovely! I have substituted almonds for the pine nuts as well.
    Leslie in Ohio

  7. Yum! I did basil, garlic and olive oil last fall and froze it in ice cube trays. We thaw a cube or two at a time for pizza sauce and it is delicious.

  8. Some other substitutes for nuts to bulk out the pesto are sunflower seeds and bread crumbs/crusts. I also use it as a dip or salad dressing base, a toast spread, topping for baked fish and a 'garnish' for veg soup

  9. Toss a bit into vegetable soup for a wonderful fresh flavor! I also love it in a fresh salad, you can even add some pasta. Use the pesto with oil as the salad dressing. Delicious.

    A note on regrowing basil from stems -- I find that it works better for me when I use filtered water. We have city water, so our tap water has a lot of chemicals in it that seem to hinder regrowth. I also learned about pinching basil stems on Youtube. It's so simple and makes it bushier for even more pesto!!

  10. I’ve seen recipes using carrot tops instead of basil too, although I haven’t tried making this variation the leaves of young carrots are sweet and flavorful.
    I’ve frozen my basil pesto in ice cube trays to allow single meal serves.

  11. I also use celery tops ( called cel-esto) and nasturtium leaves ( called nasty- pesto) Both work well as substitutes in your normal pesto recipe and offer different flavours.

  12. I make pesto a lot, but I use cashews. And another pesto I make is when I pick radishes - I use the radish greens instead of basil - it’s delicious!

  13. Pesto mixed with cream cheese is delicious on crackers.

  14. Wow , what a lot of useful information re pesto. Thankyou Annabel and ladies for this. I’ve just made a batch of Anzac Biscuits with Fiona’s recipe. Perfect result, thanks Fiona. 💕

  15. I make a pesto chicken that is so easy. Put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a baking dish. I slice breasts in half widthwise. Spread the pesto on top and bake at 350 degrees for around a half hour or until the juices run clear. Sprinkle some cheese over the top of each piece (I use mozzarella) then either bake another 10 minutes or so, or broil till the cheese is browned. It makes its own sauce in the pan with the chicken juices. I usually serve with some Angel hair pasta. It's so yummy 😋
    This is from Nancy in eastern Washington

  16. I have never made basil pesto. Do you use just the leaves or stems as well?

  17. I love to drizzle a little pesto over sliced tomatoes. And it's absolutely luxurious to add to plain old canned tomato soup. Goodness but it's like summer in a bowl!

  18. I use roasted sun flower seeds in place of the pine nuts.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts