Saturday, June 2, 2012


Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

My fondness for basil began over three decades ago when my husband and I first married.  We lived in an apartment complex in northwest Indiana.  Our most memorable neighbor was an elderly man named Emil.  He and his wife were Italian immigrants.  Entering their apartment was like entering another country--filled with antiques and doilies.  Emil grew a few vegetables and herbs on a plot of ground outside his apartment.  He was always bringing us gifts--a few tomatoes, a dish his wife had made, herbs, etc.  Emil and his wife were generous, kind, devout Catholics, and inspiring to be around. I have a memory of being invited to dinner and having small glasses of very good wine with our dinner.  

One day when I opened the door to our apartment there sat a potted basil plant.  I had often raved about the wonderful things Emil and his wife made with basil and Emil decided I needed my own plant.  I have had a potted basil plant on my porch every summer since.  Each time I pinch off a leaf, rub it between my fingers, and put it to my nose, I have happy memories of Emil.

I am glad Olivia also has a pot of basil on her porch.  She is far more creative than I am in coming up with ways to use it.  One of the many ways she uses it is in her fabulous pesto.  It is great on chicken, tossed with pasta, on crusts of bread, etc.  I hope you like it too.  I just know Emil would have loved it.  


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts  (Olivia used sliced almonds in this recipe.)
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

Yield: Makes 1 cup.


This is one reason I make my own pesto.  The price of a small jar of pesto is extremely high in the store.  Making pesto at home is so simple and doesn't take long at all to do!

Fresh basil is easy to wash and smells heavenly...

Let's compare prices again - the basil on the left is enough to make one batch of pesto.  The basil on the right is three plants worth (and some 99 cent seeds coming up!) and would easily make two batches of pesto at the point it is at in this picture.  Just TWO weeks ago, I cut all of my basil down to right above the first two leaves right above the dirt, and LOOK at what grew back!!!

Step 1:  Gently pulse the basil in a blender, food processor, or mini food processor such as in this picture.

Step 2:  Add the olive oil, nuts, cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper.

 Step 3:  Here's the finished pesto.  It may not look beautiful in the bowl, but it is DELICIOUS!  The flavors burst in this dish.  It is so yummy!

Step 4:  Enjoy the pesto on just about anything.  The pasta salad in this picture has pesto thinned with olive oil and vinegar on it.  The chicken is a basic grilled chicken topped with a lovely dollop of pesto.  I must husband and I just "had" to test the pesto on Ritz crackers right when it was finished, and we had to make ourselves put it aside.  It really is...amazing.

I often make large batches of pesto and freeze it.  Some folks say to leave the cheese out of the recipe if you are freezing it, but I make it just the same way I always would and freeze the left over in a small, glass container.  It works just fine and is great to pull out, thaw, and use on grilled steaks for an easy dinner.  Yum!  

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