Fresh Basil Pesto

A simple pesto recipe using toasted pine nuts, fresh basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and a good olive oil.

There is a wonderful restaurant in Needham, MA called Sweet Basil that everyone should experience in their lifetime.  The tables are intimately placed closed to one another with sweet little flowers in vases and candles decorating each table, vibrant music plays overhead, ivy grows from pots hung from the ceiling and soft twinkling lights brighten the room.

Not only is the atmosphere amazing, but the food is out of this world.  Fresh local ingredients are served up every night and a lovely little bowl of fresh house-made basil pesto with warm crusty breads awaits on your table.  It is to die for.

I have only had the pleasure of dining there once, but it's pretty hard to forget.

Basil Pesto

I have always had a love for pesto but have never liked the store bought kind - it's too salty, oily and garlicy for my taste.  Sweet Basil wouldn't share their basil recipe (and why would they?!), which inspired me to try my own.  It can never beat the pesto at Sweet Basil, but I'll give myself a pat on the back because this is pretty darn tasty.

Fresh Basil Pesto

Try this Basil Pesto with my Pesto Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers or A Taste of Spring: Fresh Basil Pesto with Penne

Basil Pesto
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 2 C basil leaves, stems removed and washed
  • 4 small garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 - 1 C grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil, plus more for storage and/or taste
  • 1/2 C pine nuts or walnuts
  1. In a food processor, combine garlic and pine nuts until finely ground (30 seconds to 1 minute)
  2. Mix in parmesan cheese and pulse again until combined, then add basil leaves and olive oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper if needed
  4. Serve immediately or store in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container with a small film of olive oil poured on top (it will keep the basil from spoiling)
  5. Makes about 1 - 1 1/2 Cup pesto


Lauren Collins

I'm a health coach and plant-based recipe creator from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In a few short words, I love to cook, eat, travel, play around with food photography and most of all, I love to help people live healthier and happier lives. A lot of the recipes you see here are adapted from my Mom, or from just throwing a few ingredients together until something magical happens.

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[…] came together after I had decided to make a batch of fresh Basil Pesto the other day.  A long time ago I had made this for Ryan, except that I had used store bought […]

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[…] The leftovers actually taste even better because the flavors get a chance to melt together even more.  I used a basil pesto that I made at home using basil from my garden, but there are a lot of freshly made local pesto's to choose from at the store too.  Look for pesto in the cheese or refrigerated pasta section.  That's where you'll find authentic local pesto.  I don't like the jarred kind found with the marinara sauces because they are loaded with salt and too much olive oil.  Spend just a little more for the better stuff, or just make your own!  I have a wonderfully easy basil pesto recipe here. […]

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