Classic Italian Pesto


A bit more effort than using a food processor, but enjoyable in a meditative way and produces a tastier pesto… really. From



  • 1 large bunch basil, leaves only, washed and dried
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic
  • 1 small handful raw pine nuts (walnuts also work nicely)
  • roughly 3/4 C Parmesan, loosely packed and FRESHLY GRATED
  • A few T extra-virgin olive oil




Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. I scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince.

Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan, and chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a basil “cake”. Transfer the pesto “cake” to a small bowl (not much bigger than the cake). Cover with a bit of olive oil; it doesn’t take much, just a few tablespoons.

You can set this aside or place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Just before serving give the pesto a quick stir to incorporate some of the oil into the basil. You can also thin the pesto with a splash of pasta water for more coverage.

Makes about 1 cup.