Basil Pesto Recipe

You can learn how to make this traditional Basil Pesto Recipe using olive oil, garlic, cheese and basil to create a delicious no-cook sauce perfect for pasta.

August/September 2007

  • Try this traditional Basil Pesto Recipe as part of your next pasta meal.
    Try this traditional Basil Pesto Recipe as part of your next pasta meal.
    Photo by Fotolia/dream79
  • Try this traditional Basil Pesto Recipe as part of your next pasta meal.

Yield: 5 servings

This Basil Pesto Recipe uses the traditional pesto ingredients of olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese for this delicious pasta sauce.


This traditional Basil Pesto Recipe is a fast and easy no-cook sauce to dress your favorite pasta.

Pesto has been taking on many other flavors, some traditional and some evolving out of its popularity. Flavorful herb pestos can be made from cilantro, parsley, arugula, spinach and more. Here is one of my favorite pesto recipes.

Basil Pesto Recipe

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves, large stems removed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp pine nuts (walnuts are a less expensive substitute)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese
3 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature (optional)


1. Wash the basil and pat dry. Place the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic and salt in the food processor bowl and process to a uniform creamy consistency.

2. Place mixture in a bowl and add in the grated cheeses, stirring by hand. Once well blended, add the butter (if using) and mix thoroughly.

3. This is enough pesto to flavor 1/2 pound of pasta. When spooning the pesto over pasta, dilute it slightly with a tablespoon of water leftover from the pasta-cooking water.

Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. To freeze pesto, make the sauce up to the cheese step, but don’t add the cheese. Freeze pesto in small labeled containers. Add the cheese when you thaw the pesto and mix it with the cooked pasta. Sometimes I do freeze pesto with the cheese in it for convenience. But adding the cheese later has the best flavor and texture.

Parsley pesto can be made by substituting half or all the basil in the recipe above. Try adding 2 to 4 scallions as well. Serves 5.

Read more about making homemade pesto: Perfect Summer Pesto Recipes.

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