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homemade basil pesto recipe

August 12, 2009

The other week I had a quick, easy, and of course tasty solution to the monster mint growing in my garden.  Now it’s time to focus attention to the Genovese basil that’s having a similar, though not as dramatic, growth spurt.  Indeed, a good ‘problem’ to have.

Sure, I’ve been using sparse amounts in my homemade marinara and to add flavor and color to a variety of Italian and Thai dishes as chronicled in these very pages.  But to put a nice dent in the beast and force it to continue to grow leaves vs. bolt, more dramatic action is needed.  Pesto, of course.

Most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, and that’s just fine and dandy (not to mention authentic).  Adding my personal touch to the equation I omit the pine nuts and instead use a good ricotta.  That’s right, ricotta.  Tried and tested over and over by my kitchen guinea pigs (read:  friends), the ricotta creates a creamy, textured, and smooth pesto –all good things in my book.  Give this a whirl and see for yourself.


A handful of fresh basil.  Genovese is preferred.  Garden variety will be 100 times brighter, spicier, and more flavorful than that so called basil you find in the supermarket.

Fresh from the garden

Fresh from the garden

1 clove of garlic

1.5 TBS ricotta

A good 2 TBS of Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

9 TBS extra virgin olive oil

A tsp of red pepper flakes (optional, but a must in my recipe)


This is tough:  add all the ingredients to a blender/food processor and pulse until you’re left with a smooth paste (if you’re old skool use a mortal and pestle).  Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. With pesto some like it saltier, with more garlic or oil, etc….taste for yourself.

Birds eye view, pre blender mayhem

Birds eye view, pre blender mayhem

Finished pesto -green goodness.

Finished pesto -green goodness.

Serve with:

Mix into pasta, spread on a good toasted Italian bread, or eat as is.  With a spoon.

NOTE:  If you’re like me and have a jungle of basil, fret not.  Make as much pesto as the heart (and yield) desires, add to ice cube trays, let freeze through and through, and transfer to an airtight baggie.  Keeps well in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Penguin ice cube tray not included

Penguin ice cube tray not included

One Comment leave one →
  1. Michele permalink
    August 13, 2009 9:11 am

    Walnuts are cheaper and result in quite a similar outcome to using pine nuts (pignoli). Can also try no nuts at all.

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