Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best Basil Pesto

Summer is my favorite time of year to cook. I love all of the fresh berries that are in season and I get so excited to grow my own herbs. There is nothing like fresh herbs to brighten up a dish and give it tremendous flavor. I was so happy this summer when my basil just took off! It grew big, beautiful, and bushy. It had the most gorgeous deep green color and I could not wait to get my hands on it to make pesto. I like to make pesto once a year and then some of it so I can use it through the summer. Last year I made Giada DeLaurentis' pesto and this year I tried Ina Garten's. I loved Giada's last year and thought nothing could beat it, but I have to say Ina wins this one for me. Maybe it's the combination of walnuts and pinenuts or the whole nine cloves of garlic that tip the scales to make this one an absolute winner. It was so delicious and I now I can hardly wait till fall rolls around so I can make my tomato pesto soup.

I like to do alot of things with my pesto but one of mine and my husbands favorites is to simply toss it with some pasta, add some peas and some fresh parmesan and then enjoy! One recipe I can't wait to try is Ina's pasta, pesto, and peas. I will include the recipe bellow incase any of you want to try it out.

Isn't that the most beautiful color!

I could have literally just sat down and eaten the pesto
right out of the food processor with a spoon! It was that good.

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas


  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pesto (packaged or see recipe below)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignoli, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.


  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignoli, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups


  1. I made Pesto a few weeks ago and used up all of my Basil. I want to plant more plants...lots more.

  2. I just posted about Basil Pesto too. I need to try this Pesto recipe. I use it in this Pesto Swirl Bread and it is delicious. Check it out whatscookingorem.com

  3. Pesto is definitely one of my weaknesses. Love it!