Garden Fresh Pesto for Dinner

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto

This is the foundational pesto recipe - use it as the starting point in making your signature pesto, with the ingredients you grow at home or especially love!
Author Stephen


  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts or other nuts
  • Coarse Natural Sea Salt
  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated Pecorino Romano or other aged, hard grating cheese


  1. Harvest the basil by trimming the stalks about three inches above the soil to allow the plant to regrow.
  2. Pull the leaves off, put them in a colander and rinse well. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes to drain well.
  3. Add the basil leaves, the the garlic, pine nuts and a pinch of sea salt. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Pulse the processor quickly several times to chop the leaves and start the processing.
  4. After the bulk has started to drop in the bowl, pulse the blades for a longer time - about 30 seconds each until a rough consistency has formed. You might need to pulse the blades two or three times.
  5. Check the consistency of the pesto paste at this point. If it is a bit too dry, add half of the remaining olive oil and pulse a couple of times for about 15 - 20 seconds each time, then re-check the consistency. It is easy to add a bit more oil, but you can't take it out!
  6. Add the grated cheese when the pesto has a rough chopped consistency and pulse for 30 - 45 seconds, stopping each time to scrape the bowl down and examine the developing pesto. If the paste is a little too thick or dry for your liking or use, add a bit more oil and pulse, then check it again.
  7. The pesto is ready when it has a bright green, smooth consistency. When that is achieved, stop.

Recipe Notes

To avoid spoiling the pesto flavor by the food processor, take care to minimize the heat produced by the blade. Some suggest chilling the blade and bowl assembly in the freezer before starting and monitor the amount of time the pesto is being processed, but it doesn't take that long to make a batch, and we haven't tasted a noticeable difference with not freezing the blade and bowl.
Using cheese fresh from the refrigerator helps control any heat as well.