Basil Pesto

3 Cups Tightly Packed Fresh or Hydroponic Basil (Hydroponic Basil is available all winter in some stores, and works great.) Don’t use the cut & boxed basil, since it wilts quickly!
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts or Lightly Salted, Dry-Roasted Cashews. With pine nuts breaking the $30/lb mark, and cashews around $6/lb, I switched to Cashews and nobody even noticed the difference.
1 or 2 Ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (a block about 1″ x 2″ x 2″)
2 Cloves Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Careful! – There’s very little difference between enough salt to make it perfect and enough to make it too salty

Basil Pesto

  • Rinse basil and gently shake off water.
  • Add the pine nuts, cheese and garlic cloves to a food processor with a metal blade, and process until it has the consistency of coarse peanut butter. (you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once)
  • Carefully tear the Basil leaves off the stem (basil bruises easily), add to food processor and process until finely ground.
  • With the food processor still running, add Extra Virgin Olive oil until it has the consistency of good tomato sauce. If the nut/garlic/basil mixture sticks to the side of the bowl, you’ll need to stop and and scrape it down to make sure it’s all mixed properly.
  • Continue processing and taste. You may need to add a very small amount (1/4 tsp) of salt.
  • Taste and add more salt if necessary. Note that the amount of salt is critical. Too little and it will taste flat, but it’s very easy to add too much and make it too salty. If you need to add salt, just add a little bit at a time, tasting after each addition.


  • This was traditionally made with pine nuts, however since pine nuts have been hovering around $30/pound, I’ve switched to dry-roasted, lightly-salted cashews, which are about $6/pound, and almost nobody noticed.
  • Store the extra pesto in the refrigerator in a glass jar with a lid. Before refrigerating, smooth out the surface and gently float a thin layer of olive oil on top. The oil will keep air away from the pesto and will prevent it from discoloring.

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