Kissed My Basil Goodbye – Made Pesto!

I had to face the fact that the basil needed to be pulled out of the garden. The plants were going to seed and some leaves were showing signs of sunburn. Practically in tears (sad to see them go until next spring), I cut off the leaf stems and brought them in the house to make pesto.

A good description of pesto from Olivier’s & Co: 

“Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, which is located in the northern region of Italy. It originated around the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil… 

The name Pesto originates from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or to crush. This refers to the way in which the authentic sauce is prepared, with a mortar and pestle. However, the translation may be a bit misleading because the preparation does not consist of pounding, rather it is of grounding. The reason the preparation is important is in order to release the full aroma of the basil leaf it must not be crushed.”

I don’t have a pestle and mortar so preparing pesto the traditional way isn’t an option for me. In the past, I’ve tried using a pestle and mortar at a friend’s and believe me, you need to have good upper body strength because it does take some endurance to thoroughly break down the leaves.

The tool I use to break up the leaves and mix ingredients is a food processor. It does a good enough job for me. Especially when the garden is bursting and I have tomatoes to process, zucchini to chop and cook, figs to pick, etc., I don’t have time to crush the basil leaves with a mortar and pestle. Not to mention we are leaving for Italy shortly and all the preparation necessary for that trip.

The day I made this pesto the kitchen had a strong basil aroma – aaahhhhh. I’d use basil for perfume if that were possible. 

Wash and pat basil dry. Also, can do this step in a salad spinner.

Put all ingredients in the food processor and give it a whirl. Slowly drip in olive oil while ingredients are breaking down.

And it’s done!

A single recipe yield is about two small jars of pesto. I usually always make a double recipe and make 5 jars.

Pesto will darken in color as it sits and is exposed to the air. 

2 1/2 small jars
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  1. 1/3 cup pine nuts
  2. 1 1/3 cups basil (packed into measuring cup)
  3. 2-3 cloves of garlic (roughly cut up)
  4. 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
  5. 5 ounces olive oil
  1. Wash and dry basil, picking the best leaves. Stuff the leaves into the measuring cup so it almost doubles the amount.
  2. Add all ingredients (except olive oil) into a food processor and pulse a few times to mix the ingredients.
  3. Slowly stream in the olive oil into ingredients while running food processor on low.
  4. Pour into clean jars. Freeze or keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.
  1. Option: substitute pine nuts with walnuts. It gives the pesto a slightly different flavor.
  2. Option: Use pestle and mortar crushing method.
Christina's Food And Travel
Tip from a fellow foodie: freeze pesto in ice cube trays and then bag up to store in freezer. You will have perfect portions to use in recipes. 


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