How to make pesto


  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 100 grams basil leaves with stalks on, leaves and flowers removed and washed and dried
  • 60 grams pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, the nicest you can afford, preferably from Liguria
  • 20 grams finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 20 grams finely grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving


  1. In a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic with the sea salt until it forms a paste. Use the pestle to grind the garlic along the sides and don’t pound the mixture.
  2. When the garlic and salt has formed a puree, add the basil leaves. Continue to grind until the leaves start to break down.
  3. Next, add the pine nuts, continuing to grind until the mixture forms a paste.
  4. Remove the pesto from the mortar into a bowl and add the cheeses.
  5. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
  6. When well mixed, add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until it forms a sauce.
  7. Pesto can be placed in a clean, dry jar, covered with oil, and placed in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen in cubes in an ice tray ready to add to a soup or pasta when needed.


If you don’t want to use a mortar and pestle, you can also use a blender or food processor or a hand blender with good results. Just add in the same order as listed above, adding a few tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic. Be careful not to over chop the pine nuts as you want the sauce to have a nice, slightly chunky texture. When combined, remove the pesto and place in a bowl. Stir in the cheeses using a wooden spoon. Then slowly add the remaining olive oil.


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