Fresh Basil Pesto

Pesto is best known as a sauce for pasta. This method for making pesto uses a bit of butter along with olive oil to help it spread better in pasta dishes. It is also delicious as an hors d’oeuvre on toasted baguette or as an accompaniment to other starches, such as polenta and proteins. Makes 1 cup.


2 to 4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups basil leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

  1. Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, basil and pine nuts together in a mortar and pestle or a food processor and grind or process until the mixture forms a paste.
  2. Place the mixture in a bowl and fold in the Parmesan cheese. Fold in the olive oil and butter. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, freeze in small containers; ice cube trays work really well.

Cilantro-Walnut Pesto: Substitute cilantro for basil and walnuts for pine nuts. This version of pesto is delicious with fish such as salmon.

Parsley-Sun Dried Tomato Pesto: Substitute parsley for basil and add 1/2 cup oil packed sundried tomatoes in Step #1. Try it toasted on sliced baguette or on sandwiches.

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