After making Margherita pizzas (+ dough and sauce) last week (see, I was hanging out for more basil – just as much as Friday. And I couldn’t wait until October/November when we would have it in the garden. So I decided to make basil pesto this weekend. Cass (my husband) taught me to make pesto. I also learnt from him to use almonds instead of pine-nuts (it’s cheaper, and I prefer the taste and colour of the pesto as well). You can roast the almonds beforehand for a richer almond flavour. Sometimes, if I have some pine-nuts around I add them as well as almonds (this would be within the gram amount given for nuts). But I always will use more almonds than pine nuts.

Pesto is a versatile food. It can turn pasta into a meal, or be served as a dip or as your pizza base, on a top of a pizza, with poached eggs and bacon, on a sandwich, or your toastie. It’s so easy to make and tastes tons better than bought pesto.

Pesto (from

Makes 4 serves as a pasta sauce.

30g of basil leaves (from a medium sized bunch from the shops)

1-2 cloves of garlic. I like garlic so I add 2.

1 cup of olive oil

100 g almonds

30g of parmesan cheese. Grated.


Can be done in a food mixer, mortar and pestle or tall jug/large bowl and stick blender.

Pick off and wash the leaves of your basil. Discard the stems.

Add the basil leaves to whatever you are blending in with a ¼ cup of the olive oil. Mix.

Add the garlic cloves. Like me, roughly slice if you don’t have a whiz-bang blender. Add a tablespoon (or decent slosh) of the olive oil. Mix.

Add the almonds. Add a tablespoon (or decent slosh) of the olive oil. Mix.

Add the cheese. Add a tablespoon (or decent slosh) of the olive oil. Mix.

Add the left-over olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (about ½ to ¼ teaspoon of each). Mix.

I probably blended this batch a little too much; I usually like to see and feel more of the almonds.

Come spring and summer, I will pick butt loads of basil about every 6-8 weeks and make a large batch of pesto. My record is 3kg of pesto. Once you know what’s in it, you can make as much as you need and you learn to know how much of each ingredient you need to make a large amount. It will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge or freezes well in plastic containers, which makes an easy dinner or school lunch. Just take out to defrost and boil some pasta. Or if you are feeling fancy, you can make some pasta to go with it.


Published by Zoe Crichton