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Basil Pesto

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

Reviews (9 reviews)

  • beaujo | 08/08/2020

    Great recipe. I added garlic and little more cheese. I tried the blender method but transferred to the food processor for better results. This is the first thing I have found the Vitamix didn't work well!! This is a recipe to repeat.

  • TheEarlofGrey | 09/10/2017

    I don't even LIKE pesto, and I liked this! I made it to use up a bumper crop of basil and the plan was just to gift it all to neighbors. Instead (sorry neighbors) most of it went in my freezer for safekeeping. YUM!

  • sugarmama88 | 08/06/2017

    I love pesto but haven't made it in over 20 years because my husband has alway said he doesn't like it because it's too garlicky. Since we have an abundance of basil from our garden this year I wanted to try this recipe for myself. He LOVED it so much he went back for thirds! I used my food processor instead of the blender and a scant tsp of jarred minced garlic to make sure it was mild. Quick and delicious! I will DEFINITELY make it again.

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