Classic basil pesto



10 min


1 1/3 cups

Classic basil pesto

Michael Graydon

This authentic Italian recipe adds summer flavour to any dish.


  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves , about 2 small bunches
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts , optional
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice , about 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


  • Drop 2 garlic cloves through the spout of a food processor (or blender) while it’s running. If you like garlic, use a third clove. Add basil, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until finely chopped. With motor still running, gradually add oils. If using a blender, slowly add oils, stopping after every couple of tablespoons to scrape down sides with a spatula.

Storing tip

Pesto will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Or freeze it in ice-cube trays and store the frozen pesto cubes in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 91,
  • Protein
  • 1 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 1 g,
  • Fat
  • 9 g,
  • Sodium
  • 51 mg.


Arugula-almond: In place of basil and pine nuts, use 4 cups fresh arugula leaves and 1/2 cup toasted almonds.

Cilantro-walnut: In place of basil and pine nuts, use 4 cups fresh cilantro (including stems) and 1/2 cup toasted walnuts.

Sun-dried tomato: In place of basil, use 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, patted dry.

3 ways to use pesto:

Roasted Fish: Spread pesto over fillets of halibut, salmon or trout. Roast on a baking sheet in centre of preheated 400F oven until a knife tip inserted into the thickest part of the fish and held for 10 sec comes out warm, 10 to 15 min.

Feta Spread: Whirl 200 g of feta with 1/4 cup pesto in a food processor. Use as sandwich spread. Or for an easy appetizer, spread over baguette slices and bake on a baking sheet in centre of preheated 400F oven until spread is warm and bread is toasted, 4 to 6 min. Top with prosciutto or sliced tomatoes.

Broccoli with Tomatoes: Steam 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets. Meanwhile, slice 2 tomatoes in half crosswise. Squeeze out seeds and discard. Coarsely chop tomatoes. Add to a bowl. Mash in 1/4 cup pesto and 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add drained hot broccoli and toss. Serve immediately.