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Basil Pesto

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Joanne Smart

Yield: Yields 1-1/2 cups.

This recipe is easily doubled.


  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably a fruity one

Nutritional Information

      Nutritional Sample Size per Tbs.
      Calories (kcal) : 60
      Fat Calories (kcal): 50
      Fat (g): 6
      Saturated Fat (g): 1
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4
      Cholesterol (mg): 0
      Sodium (mg): 340
      Carbohydrates (g): 1
      Fiber (g): 0
      Protein (g): 1


  • Bring 2 qt. water seasoned with 1 Tbs. of the salt to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, set up an ice bath by combining ice and water in a medium bowl.
  • Put the basil in the boiling water, pressing it gently under the water, and cook for just 2 or 3 seconds. Quickly remove the basil from the water (a Chinese strainer works great here) and plunge it immediately into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let cool completely for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the basil from the ice bath and squeeze it lightly with your hands or in a clean dishtowel to remove most of the excess water.
  • Chop the basil coarsely with a sharp knife and then put it in a blender. Add the 1/4 cup ice water, the garlic, the pine nuts, the cheese, the remaining 1 tsp. salt, and the pepper. Blend until the basil is coarsely puréed, scraping down the sides and adding more water to facilitate blending only if needed. Be patient; don’t add more water if it isn’t necessary. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream until the pesto looks creamy and emulsified. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to a few months.

    Chopping the basil speeds blending. Squeeze out the excess water first.


Rate or Review


  • Cocodrie | 07/24/2016

    I used this recipe last summer, and couldn't agree more with all the wonderful reviews. I gave my daughter half of what I had made. She had friends over to make pizza (pesto, fresh mozzarella, and fresh roma (plum) tomatoes, sliced crosswise). Everyone asked her where she had bought the pesto, commenting on it's fabulous taste, and beautiful bright green color. She told them that her mom had made it :) And, BTW...it freezes beautifully.

  • crsinjapan | 10/13/2014

    This was my first time to make pesto, and it came out absolutely delicious. No need to tweak anything. The blanching really did give the pesto an almost electric green color, and it blended into a perfect paste. Highly recommended!

  • Solnishko | 09/26/2012

    I picked way too much basil and wasn't pleased with the other recipe I tried. The basil wasn't going to keep stuck in water glasses forever but I didn't have time to do the recipe all at once. I blanched four batches of basil for this recipe, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap (getting air out), and kept it in the fridge for two days. Ran the food processor tonight and it was easy, pretty (very green!), and yummy. Even with the extra step of blanching it was worth it. The pesto stayed bright green and had a great consistency.

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