There are few culinary pleasures in life as fragrantly intoxicating as freshly made pesto, the Genovese-originated mixture of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and cheese that – when made well – tastes even better than the promise of its sweet, nutty aroma. Though we’re like any busy , money-minded family and make ours in a food processor, we suggest trying it at least once by combining the ingredients in a mortar and pestle.


Serves: 4 / Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: check pasta box

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves (about 4 ounces}
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Romano cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 box dry pasta
  • optional: extra 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted


  1. Using a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, combine the olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and garlic and blend until a paste forms.
  2. Add the Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, and pulse until smooth.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Be mindful that Pecorino and Parmesan are salty cheeses.)
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta al dente and reserve half cup of starch water.
  5. Place pesto in a serving bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of starch water, mix and dilute. Drain the pasta and add into the bowl, mix well adding more starch water in very small increments to help the sauce spread evenly.
  6. Serve seasoned with grated Parmigiano and a handful of toasted pine nuts.

IMPORTANTE! When storing pesto in the refrigerator, add an extra layer of olive oil that will help preserve its freshness and keep the color from turning to dark green too quickly. You can also freeze it.