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Basil Pesto

  • Makes 1 cup
Basil Pesto

Pesto the classic hails from the port of Genoa, Italy and is prepared simple from basil, pinenuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and olive oil. Now the word pesto is now liberally used to describe almost any type of herb paste, which is not only sad, but at times confusing. Intensely flavoured basil pesto to my mind is best enjoyed in summer when basil, grown outside in the sunshine, has the best flavour. I also prefer it homemade as I believe the flavour is fresher.


  • 2 fresh cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups well packed basil leaves (without stems)
  • ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • ½-¾ cup olive oil (light, virgin or extra-virgin)
  • ½ cup pinenuts (untoasted)


  1. Put the garlic and pinenuts into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  2. Tear up the leaves of the basil, discarding any remaining stems or tough centre veins and add to the processor with the parmesan cheese.
  3. With the motor running gradually pour sufficient olive oil down the feed tube until the mixture forms a paste. Keep refrigerated.

Rocket and basil pesto

  1. Use 1 cup firmly-packed Italian parsley, 1 cup firmly-packed rocket and 4-6 large basil leaves in place of the 2 cups well-packed basil.

Cooks Tips

- Add less oil to make a firmer pesto. I prefer a soft, spreadable pesto. - Use pecorino cheese if you wish to make the pesto dairy-free.

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