top of page

Classic Pesto

This is a super simple pesto recipe that can be adapted to whatever you have in the cupboards or whatever your flavour preferences are. Shop bought pesto tends to use less quality ingredients (canola oil, less % of nuts) and so making your own really does make a difference. Classic pesto uses pine nuts. I think toasting the pine nuts adds a real depth of flavour, but this isn't an essential step. Use in pasta, smear on toasted bread under some eggs, in sandwiches, on roasted vegetables, mix into butter to use with steak or stuff in a chicken breast. Very freezer friendly, these are great backups to have stored away.

Total time to make : 10 minutes (longer if toasting pine nuts)

Time to prepare : 5 minutes

Servings : 8 - 10 portions


100g pine nuts

~ 60g basil

2 garlic cloves

60g parmesan cheese

8 tbsp good quality olive oil

1 tsp salt

Juice from 1/2 lemon and pepper, to finish


  1. If you're toasting the pine nuts, dry toast them in a frying pan for 5 - 10 minutes until toasted and golden. Stir constantly to make sure the pine nuts don't burn (this happens very quickly!), then remove from the heat and tip onto a clean plate in a single layer, leave to cool completely or they will turn into a nut butter paste when blitzing

  2. In a food processor, pour in the (toasted and cooled or raw) pine nuts, basil, garlic cloves, parmesan cheese and salt. Pulse a few times to bring it together, then add in the olive oil and pulse again until desired consistency. Avoid turning the food processor on to continually blend (see notes below)

  3. Once ready, squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lemon, taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Taste again, finish with a few cracks of black pepper and either use immediately or store for later (see notes below)

Nutritional Information

(per serving)

190 calories

4g protein, 0.5g carbs, 19g fat

Good to know:

  • Basil is very sensitive to heat (and turns black) so when using the food processor, only 'pulse' rather than turn on continually to avoid bruising the basil and ending up with a black pesto

  • Likewise, if using in warm dishes, such as pasta, stir the pesto through the pasta once the pasta is in the serving bowl, not in a hot pan

  • Swap out pine nuts for walnuts, cashes, almonds, Brazil nuts and swap basil with rocket or use a mix

  • Use a good quality olive oil as it's so prominent in this recipe

  • Pesto needs quite a lot more seasoning (salt and pepper) than regular dips because of the strong flavours and bitterness that can come with basil. Always taste and add more at the end if you like

  • Lemon adds a beautiful acidity to pesto, use in the recipe and squeeze over extra lemon juice over any dishes before serving

  • Keep fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days or, freeze in individual tubs (recycle your sauce/dip tubs) or ice cube trays with 1 tsp olive oil drizzled over the top to seal everything in


bottom of page