How to make pesto

I don’t have a green thumb at all but at the moment the basil in my little herb garden is thriving.  When life gives you basil, what can you do but make pesto?  I like to make it by hand the old school way with a mortar and pestle. It means a bit more chopping and crushing than just whizzing everything up in a food processor but there’s something therapeutic about mixing it together yourself.  It also gives the pesto a nice chunky rustic appearance that is miles away from the stuff you buy at the supermarket.  I use my pesto smeared on biscuits as a snack, as a pasta sauce and to dress salad.  It gives almost anything a really fresh summery taste.


2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
50ml olive oil
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
30g pine nuts
1.  Toast the pine nuts by cooking them on a low heat in a frying pan.  Just when they start to colour take them out and 
2. Smash the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle until smooth.
3.  Roughly chop the basil leaves then add them to the mortar and pound them into the garlic mixture.  
4.  Add the olive oil, a little at a time and keep pounding until well mixed.
5.  Finally add in the cheese and pine nuts and crush until the pesto is smooth.
Adding the basil and parmesan
This makes one small jar of pesto and will keep better if you add some extra olive oil on top of the pesto in the jar. Keep refrigerated and use within a few days for the best taste.  


  1. I love your action shots – I think I’d like a mortar and pestle just for the fun of making things like this!

  2. Yum, I love pesto. Became obsessed with it after visiting Liguria the home of pesto. I agree making it in a mortar and pestle is better. I think because it bruises the basil rather than chopping it, gives it a better flavour.

  3. Kari – Oh I use my mortar and pestle heaps, you need one for sure. They are not that expensive.

    Jules – I’ve never been to Liguria – I think a trip may be in order!

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