Classic Basil Pesto

A classic, basil pesto is my favourite summertime pasta sauce. It’s herbaceous, nutty and creamy all at the same time, and perhaps something about the how it only tastes this good at the peak of summer makes it all the more alluring.

This is my 6-ingredient, tried and tested Basil Pesto recipe. This recipe is for the pesto sauce only; here it is pictured with Orecchiette, tomatoes two-ways and grilled lemon chicken. Other than on pasta, some absolutely amazing uses for pesto include:

  • Slathered onto bread inside a sandwich– pair it with roast chicken, cheese or roast beef
  • Add it to your breakfast toast; delicious when piled with mushrooms or scrambled eggs
  • As a salad dressing– dilute with lemon juice and olive oil and use it to dress just about any salad or roast
  • As a marinade over white fish, chicken or pork; grill your protein of choice, then brush with some delicious pesto
  • Serve as a dip on a grazing plate with veggie sticks, crudités or crackers

A large bunch of fresh basil goes quite a long way. Luckily, pesto stores pretty well in the fridge, just keep it in an air-tight container, and pack the pesto down tight with a spoon (ensuring no air bubbles). A thin layer of olive oil over the top will also stop the pesto from oxidising. Pesto also freezes well, I like to make a huge batch and freeze it in smaller jars to last me through winter when basil is scarce.

Pesto is so simple on paper, but having said that- it only uses a handful of ingredients; so the quality of every single ingredient makes a world of difference! Some further notes on making the perfect pesto:

  • I like to toast half of my pine nuts to add a bit of extra nuttiness and flavour, but I leave the other half un-toasted to ensure the consistency is still creamy.
  • I love the taste of Pecorino Romano in this- it’s sharp and salty, finding a high quality cheese can make or break the pesto. You can substitute with Parmigiano Reggiano, but be sure to buy a good quality block and grate it as you need it (don’t buy pre-shaved or shredded)
  • Use the best extra-virgin olive oil you can afford for this
  • I like to add a squeeze of lemon; the acidity helps to cut through the creaminess and aids in preserving the pesto in the fridge
  • If you’re adding the pesto to pasta, make sure to add a big splash of the pasta cooking water; the starch will thicken up the sauce and make the pesto extra creamy. Pasta water truly is the magic ingredient when it comes to making beautiful pasta

Classic Basil Pesto

This is my tried and tested, fool-proof recipe for the perfect, classic Basil Pesto
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 204kcal


  • 1.5 cups fresh basil (equivalent to 62.5grams) leaves picked, washed and dried
  • 45 grams pine nuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 60 grams Pecorino Romano- freshly grated
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon (juice only)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Wash and dry the basil leaves, add these to a food processor
  • Heat a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, add half of the pine nuts to the pan and toss until the pine nuts are lightly toasted and golden. Remove from heat. Add these & the un-toasted pine nuts to the food processor
  • Add the remainder of the dry ingredients to the food processor, the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Lightly whizz until the pesto is still slightly chunky (not a smooth puree)


Calories: 204kcal (for pesto sauce only)
Carbs: 1.1g | Fat: 21.2g | Protein: 2.3g

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