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Homemade Pesto - Why Buy Shop Bought?

Homemade pesto can taste way better than store-bought, it's fresher and potentially cheaper too!

Homemade pesto can taste way better than store-bought, it's fresher and potentially cheaper too!

Homemade Pesto

Pesto is a delicious and versatile sauce originating from Italy, traditionally made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It's a staple product in our cupboard for a quick and easy pasta dinner; my son would eat this every day if we gave him that option! Rising prices have resulted in the cost of buying decent pesto being a bit of a wallet buster, so we like to make our own, which is quick and easy and tastes better than any store-bought version!

Below is a basic recipe and method for making pesto. Pine nuts and basil can be expensive, so you can swap the basil for any leaves, such as parsley, spinach, kale, or rocket, which is perfect if you have some leftover leaves that need to be used up. In the summer, I grow my own basil, which grows quickly; you can keep replanting from the original plant cuttings and enjoy fresh basil all summer! Pine nuts can be substituted with any other kind of nut. I've made it with cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts before, and it was delicious! Macadamia nuts were my favourite variation of not using pine nuts, but they aren't cheap, but if you have them, definitely use them!


  • 4 oz fresh basil leaves or any other leaves you fancy

  • 2oz Pine nuts or whatever nuts you have in the cupboard

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 2oz grated Parmesan cheese or any other type of hard cheese; most supermarkets do a budget version of Parmesan.

  • Glug of olive oil. I've successfully used normal vegetable oil for this with no issues, which keeps the cost low!

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Toast the nuts (optional):

  • If you prefer a richer flavour, you can toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they turn golden brown. Be careful not to burn them.

  1. Prepare the basil:

  • Wash the basil leaves thoroughly and pat them dry with paper towels. Remove any tough stems, as they can make the pesto bitter. If you are using leftover salad, make sure you wash off any dressing it may have on the leaves first.

  1. Combine ingredients:

  • Add the basil leaves, toasted nuts, garlic cloves, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor or blender. Pulse several times until the ingredients are roughly chopped and combined.

  1. Slowly add olive oil:

  • With the food processor or blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.

  1. Season to taste:

  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Remember that Parmesan cheese is already salty, so you might not need much additional salt.

  1. Adjust consistency (optional):

  • If the pesto is too thick for your liking, add more olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency.

  1. Store or serve:

  • If you're not using the pesto immediately, transfer it to an airtight container and cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation and browning. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for longer storage.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Toss with freshly cooked pasta for a quick and flavourful meal.

  • Spread on sandwiches or wraps.

  • Use as a marinade for grilled vegetables or meats.

  • Stir into soups or stews for added depth of flavour.

  • Mix with mayonnaise or yoghurt for a tasty dip.


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