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Pesto - A Family Feast

I absolutely love Pesto – tossed with pasta, on pizza, added as flavoring to a sauce, or even smeared onto corn on the cob instead of butter! And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve been caught eating pesto straight out of the container with a spoon – I just love it so much!

So, today we’re sharing my go-to recipe for pesto. It’s the perfect blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and cheeses. This is a thick and substantive pesto – not overly oily – and we think this is one of the best pesto recipes that we’ve ever had!

Pesto is a sauce that originated in northern Italy, and according to Wikipedia, the name is derived from the Genoese word pestare, which means to pound, to crush – a reference to the original method of preparation for this sauce with a marble mortar and wooden pestle.

We’ve adapted this pesto recipe from one that originally appeared in The Silver Palate Cookbook, substituting pine nuts both to be authentic to the original Italian recipe, but also because we prefer the taste of the pine nuts over the walnuts. In a pinch, however, this pesto recipe is still very good made with walnuts, but we recommend pine nuts in this pesto if possible.

When Jack and I went to Italy for our honeymoon all those years ago, we saw pine nut trees for the first time and they were unlike any other tree we had seen before! They have a tall, skinny trunk and the evergreen needles were at the very top in almost like a pom-pom formation. (Picture the trees in The Lorax movie!) During the harvest season, the trees are shaken so that the pine cones fall from the top of the tree to the ground, and then the nuts are harvested for consumption.

This delicious pesto is a taste of Italy at home and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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Pesto - A Family Feast


  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups


Pesto will lose its vivid green color and turn brownish when exposed to air but there are a few tricks to prevent that from happening when storing pesto in the fridge. First, we try to store it in a taller, narrow container or jar to minimize the pesto’s exposure to air. Pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto before closing the lid will also work, but we find that eventually makes the pesto overly-oily as it is mixed in, if you are using small amounts out of the jar. As an alternative, we have found that placing a piece of plastic food wrap directly against the top of the pesto before placing the lid on the jar also works well and avoids the ‘overly-oily’ problem.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 4 good-sized garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pine nuts (if pine nuts are not available, substitute with walnuts)
  • 1 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated imported Parmesan Reggiano
  • ¼ cup freshly grated imported Romano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a food processor, add basil, garlic and pine nuts and process until uniformly chopped.
  2. With motor running add olive oil in a drizzle. Open the lid and scrape down the sides then turn motor back on to mix.
  3. Pour into a bowl and hand mix in both cheeses and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. This pesto may also be frozen – we put it in small zipper seal food storage bags and flatten to remove all the air from the bag before sealing and freezing.

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  • David wrote:

    I absolutely Love the chicken Bellagio from the cheesecake factory. I have not yet rustled up enough courage to try and make it at home I seen your recipe and I like the whole breaded chicken aspect of the cheesecake factory dish. But I have to admit your homemade pesto looks absolutely magnificent I love pesto! So I am determined to try your dish and I have a few questions, where can I find imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese? And Romano?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi David! We actually buy both our Parmesan and Romano cheese at Costco! They have some of the best prices around for aged, imported cheeses. If there isn’t a Costco near you – your local supermarket will also likely carry Parmesan and Romano which will work great in both the Chicken Bellagio as well as our Pesto recipe! Hope you enjoy these dishes as much as we do and thanks for stopping by!

  • Carol | a cup of mascarpone wrote:

    OH, YUMMM!!! I dream of basil in my sleep…I love it so much! I buy jars of pesto in the Italian section of my grocery store, to use in a favorite pasta dish, and for pizza! I have never made my own, don’t even know why. This looks so delectable, and an excellent recipe…I’m going to try this!

    • Martha wrote:

      Oh Carol! Freshly made pesto is so much better than the jarred stuff (and so easy in the food processor)! I guarantee, once you’ve made it, you’ll never go back to the jarred again… 🙂

  • Michelle wrote:

    Just stumbled upon your website and love it! I often make a spinach and tomato pizza with pesto, but as much as I love to cook, I’ve never made it homemade before. I am going to try this on Friday for our family pizza night.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks so much Michelle! I hope you enjoy the pesto as much as we do!

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