High-End Pesto

Because basil is in season and because everyone else is talking about it and doing it, I’m gonna share my pesto recipe with ya’ll. Just to put it out there.

I didn’t get this recipe from any old cookbook; I got it from a real chef from the highest-end restaurant in town. (Or is it highest-endest? Or highest-endedest?) Granted, he didn’t actually give me the recipe, but… See, a couple summers ago I had taken the kids to the children’s museum and they were having a special cooking presentation from a real chef from the above-mentioned establishment, and he just happened to be making pesto. So I watched closely, scrutinizing his every move. This is what I came away with.


4-5 cups basil leaves, packed
2-3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ – 3/4 cup olive oil

Put all the ingredients but the olive oil in a food processor and pulverize till it turns into a green paste. Then, while it’s still processing, gradually pour in the olive oil through the feed tube. Stop once or twice to scrap down the sides with a rubber spatula. Put the pesto in small containers to freeze, or eat right away.

For a pound of pasta, reserve about a half cup of the pasta’s cooking liquid and mix it with about a half cup of pesto (or more, depending on your tastes). Or, if you like it strong, don’t bother to dilute the pesto with the cooking liquid at all and use about a cup of pesto.

Several other suggestions for serving pesto:
*add to macaroni and cheese
*add to Alfredo sauce (in this recipe I just used cubes of frozen basil, but pesto would work just fine, too)
*spread in sandwiches with roasted tomatoes and sharp cheese
*spread it on pizza crust in place of the tomato sauce and top with grated cheese and tomatoes (fresh, roasted, and dried all work well)
*after mixing it into a pot of drained, hot pasta, add a half-cup of cream


  • Anonymous

    Fry up a some onions along with the garlic to release the flavors and season with salt and pepper. Throw this in with the basil leaves and pignoli nuts. This adds a nice touch to the pesto.

  • Anonymous

    Extra basil or if you didn't have a great basil growing season, try this one:
    Spinach Basil Pesto:
    1 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
    3/4 c. basil
    1/2 c. toasted pine nuts (I used walnuts)
    1/2 c grated parmesean cheese
    4 cloves garlic peeled/quartered
    3/4 tsp kosher salt
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    1 TBSP frest lemon juice
    1/2 tsp lemon zest
    1/2 c extra virgin olive oil.

    Add all but oil to food processer and pulse till chopped, stream in olive oil and enjoy! A bright green pesto, so pretty and my kids were completely fooled that there was spinach in their supper!

    L. in Elkton

  • James W.

    I just made pesto the other day. Googled up “How to make pesto like a real Italian Grandmother” Takes some time but Ohhhhh so full of flavors and a bit “piecy”. Served it last night on homemade potato gnocchi. There now, that should relieve your boredom for half an afternoon at least.
    -Aunt Valerie

  • Sarah

    Yum! This looks so good. I had high hopes for pesto this year and now I have a dozen 6 inch high basil plants with a rumor of frost on labor day going around. Maybe I’ll have enough for one batch…


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