Recipe: Homemade Basil Pesto

Recipe: Homemade Basil Pesto hover background

Jan 28

I’ve had enough of the short, dark days, and cold, wet weather. I’m heartily fed up of soups, stews and casseroles (and so is my waistline). I’m leaning so far into the upcoming spring that I’m in danger of time-travelling.  So I’ve decided to start cooking like winter is over already, and nothing imbues a kitchen with the scent of summer like fresh pesto.

Resixed 4The ingredients and instructions are ridiculously straightforward, but they do require one piece of proper kit – a high quality food processor. I’ve tried using blenders, but these just, sort of….smoosh the leaves around.

For this recipe, I used a Magimix blender, which I bought on sale from the ever-enticing Living & Kitchen department of Brown (who’ve kindly sponsored this post).  They start at just €125 for mini versions (enough for one person) and go up depending on the size you feel you’ll need.  We have the Compact 3200 which has a 3 litre capacity and comes with three bowls as well as numerous attachments designed to slice, grate, chop, whip, whisk and even knead, although that’s an experiment for another day.

It’s super simple to use, robust enough to take some knocking about, and produces superb quality results every time.

These measurements make more than enough for the two of us and the imaginary four other guests we seem to prepare for every night.


Fresh Pesto


  • 4 medium bunches of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic (more if you mainline the stuff, like I do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice


Note on ingredients: this is a very old, rustic recipe designed to be made with seasonal, accessible ingredients, not a delicate balance of sixteen components sourced from the purple pelt of unicorned goats in the Himalayas (I’m looking at you, Goop). So if you don’t want to spring for pine nuts, just toss in a few walnuts instead.  Equally, the German supermarkets have lots of lovely Italian hard cheese, such as grana padano and pecorino romano if you can’t get your hands on Parmesan. It’s about that vibrant, fresh-from-the-fields flavour, not scoring points on Masterchef.

Resized Ingredients



  1. Pile all the dry ingredients into the food processor and blend for a couple of seconds.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, start the motor again and using the ‘chimney’ attachment, stream in the olive oil. How much you use is down to personal taste: you want it to be easily spreadable, but too much will overwhelm the delicate herb flavour.
  3. After a few seconds, stop and taste: this is the time to add a little more salt, or garlic or cheese if you feel it needs it. A squeeze of lemon juice at the end will help it keep that gorgeous green colour for longer.


6E70C359-3810-4F5B-B83D-B9DA61456255It’s that simple!  Fresh pesto keeps for about a week in the fridge with a layer of olive oil on top, so I like to make a big batch and use it to transform simple suppers when I’m short on time (or inspiration!).

It works brilliantly as a topping for baked fish, as a healthy salad dressing, or even just smeared on fresh bread with a chunk of cheese, as pictured to the right.

My favourite way to enjoy fresh pesto is with simple linguine, as pictured above on the plain white plate, which serves as a reminder – I need to get back to Brown Thomas soon to check out their gorgeous dinnerware and serveware departments 😉


Disclosure: this post is part of a paid partnership with Brown Thomas. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *