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Easy Basil Pesto Recipe | A PKG Favorite

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

"Though pesto means “pounded” in Italian, the rush of modern life has taken the recipe out of the mortar and into the blender (or food processor) for most of us. This version, adapted from a Ligurian woman, Lidia Caveri, gently encourages (but does not require) a return to the mortar. The constant rap of the pestle will jostle the nuts, basil and garlic into an emulsified base. Add the oil and cheese to get an impossibly thick, creamy sauce that clings to pasta unlike any machine-made counterpart could. Though you might think otherwise, the pesto will come together before the pasta water has a chance to boil. And as a bonus, there'll be no blender to wash up afterward."

—Samin Nosrat

Pesto is a delicious and EASY way to get back to basics while practicing your hand at Garden-To-Table. While there are many pre-made pesto's on the market, in our Phoenix Kitchen Garden's opinion, they just don't hold a candle to the real thing.

Yield-About 1 Cup
Time- 30 Minutes


  • ¼ cup (30 grams) pine nuts

  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled

  • 2 cups (70 grams) tightly packed basil leaves, preferably Genovese

  • cup (60 grams) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

  • cup (30 grams) finely grated pecorino, preferably pecorino sardo

  • Sea salt

  • cup (80 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed


1. Use a mortar and pestle to pound and grind the pine nuts to a fine paste (no distinct pieces should be visible). Add the garlic, and pound until smooth and integrated.

mortar and pestle with pine nuts, easy pesto recipe
Pine nuts before grounding

mortar and pestle with pine nuts & garlic - pesto recipe
After gringing garlic and pine nuts until smooth

2. If the basil leaves are very large, run a knife through them once or twice to cut them down in size. Add basil to pine nuts along with a pinch of salt, which will help break down the leaves.

easy pesto recipe with basil using mortar and pestle
Basil and salt before grinding

3. Continue pounding and grinding until the basil breaks down completely (if your mortar is small, pound the basil in batches), about 7 minutes.

4. Once the nuts and basil combine into a thick green paste, stir in Parmesan, pecorino and oil. Taste, and adjust salt as needed.

simple basil pesto recipe using mortar and pestle
Added cheese and oil


Here at Phoenix Kitchen Garden's, we love to serve this simple and easy basil pesto on pasta, bruschetta, pizza, sandwiches, charcuterie boards, and more! Store any left over pesto immersed in oil, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

And for more recipes and low desert garden tips, don't forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

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