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Basil Pesto

by gardengirl

African Blue Basil

An old Italian recipe for traditional pesto.

Nothing says summer to me like the scent of basil in my garden. This is the most frequent way I use it in the kitchen. Here is the original recipe from The Flavor of Italy, published in 1965.


Basil Pesto


  • Finely chop 5-6 cloves of garlic.
  • Remove the stems from a bunch of fresh basil. Most Italian recipes call for 'a good handful' - about 2 cups of leaves will do.
  • Chop the leaves with a little salt, as this helps keep them green. A little parsley added to the basil also contributes color to theis sauce which should be fresh green. 
  • Work the garlic and leaves into a paste in a mortar and add 2 Tablespoons of pine nuts. 
  • Add 1/3 cup grated Parmesean or Pecorino cheese. 
  • Continue working the mixture into a very smooth paste. 
  • Gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil, stirring well until the mixture has the consistancy of creamed butter or mayonnaise.

Now, I actually do all the work in my food processor, starting with the basil and garlic. I usually omit the parsley, but I think it would be good. With the food processor running, I drizzle the oil in last. Often at the end of the summer I will place the pesto in ice cube trays to freeze and use during the winter.
When visiting with my Italian cousins, I learned to add a bit of the pasta cooking water with an extra splace of olive oil to a good spoonful of the pesto, stir it together and then add the pasta. YUM! Enjoy!



Basil recipes