Classic basil pesto

Classic basil pesto
  • Serves icon Serves 4
  • Time icon Ready in 10 minutes

You can vary this basil pesto recipe by using different herbs such as mint, coriander or flatleaf parsley, or replacing the pine nuts with almonds, cashews or walnuts.


  • 1 small garlic clove
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 25g pine nuts, very lightly toasted
  • 50g fresh basil leaves (this is the amount of picked leaves you get from a large pot from the supermarket)
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 125ml extra-virgin olive oil



In a small food processor

  1. Put the garlic and a pinch of sea salt in the bowl and pulse, then add the pine nuts and pulse again until roughly chopped (be careful not to over-process). Add the basil and pulse carefully until it is well mixed but still very textured. Turn into a bowl and stir in the Parmesan and lemon juice. Pour in the olive oil, mixing to a juicy paste. Season to taste.


In a pestle and mortar

  1. Put the garlic and sea salt in a mortar and pound with the pestle until smooth. Add the pine nuts and pound until they are roughly crushed. Add the basil and continue to pound and mash, bruising the leaves, until it starts to form a paste. Turn into a bowl and stir through the Parmesan and lemon juice. Pour in the oil and mix to a juicy paste, seasoning as you go.

delicious. tips

  1. To use:
    1. As well as stirring it into pasta, add a teaspoonful to a bowl of minestrone soup for an instant flavour boost.
    2. Spread onto griddled bruschetta and top with fresh ricotta for a tasty starter.
    3. Slather over chicken breasts or a piece of white fish, wrap in prosciutto and bake for a simple supper.
    4. When cooking mussels, add a couple of teaspoons to the broth.
    5. Stir into crème fraîche or mascarpone and use as a dip with spring veg.
    6. It’s perfect with simple antipasti such as mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto and crusty bread.
    7. Stir it into mashed potato for a great flavour.

  2. To store: Put the pesto in a sterilised jar and cover the surface of the pesto with a layer of olive oil. Top with a lid or cling film and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

    To freeze: Leave out the Parmesan, spoon into ice-cube trays and open-freeze. Tip into freezer bags and keep frozen for up to 3 months. To use, defrost the required amount and stir through some Parmesan.


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