How to make pesto? Original recipe and some variations

The original pesto is made on the basis of basil and pine nuts (in the original – pine nuts, which are obtained from the Italian pine, but this is, in fact, the overseas analogue of the Russian cedar). For the original recipe, you don’t need to cook anything, which is very convenient, you just need time and a blender. Ideally, of course, take a mortar, because the word “pesto” itself means “pounded in a mortar.”

Several sprigs of basil are finely chopped in a blender, grated garlic is added there to taste (usually 2-3 cloves), then pine nuts ground into a paste (30-40 g) and grated parmesan (to taste). The resulting mass is well mixed with olive oil (70-80 g). If desired, you can add a spoonful of lemon juice and / or hot, finely chopped chili peppers to the sauce. The classic Genoese recipe sometimes allows sheep’s cheese instead of parmesan (you can use pecorino).


However, not everyone loves basil, some do not like Parmesan, and some cannot afford pine nuts. Therefore, there are many interesting variations of pesto sauce.

The French recipe, for example, excludes pine nuts. By and large, basil can be replaced with something green, and instead of pine nuts, other nuts or even seeds are suitable. Parmesan is being replaced by the less expensive Grano Padano or any other hard cheese.

Walnuts can be used as nuts. It is better to lightly fry them in a pan before that. It was then, by the way, that Grano Padano can be used instead of Parmesan – this cheese has a light taste of walnuts.

You can make pistachio pesto. To remove the inner film from the nuts, put them in water and boil. Then the skin will go away by itself.


You can replace the nuts with pumpkin or sunflower seeds. The sauce will acquire a different interesting flavor.

Pesto connoisseurs sometimes allow themselves to prepare a sauce with other ingredients. For example, you can find pesto with the addition of paprika or tomatoes. This makes the sauce more juicy.

Broccoli makes the pesto healthier. The rest of the recipe remains classic. You can add other herbs if desired, such as cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage, or mint. For those who don’t like basil, you can make spinach pesto to preserve the vibrant green color and vitamins.

Very original cooks add beet tops to the sauce. Rucola will also work. And purely Russian pesto can be made even with nettles – instead of basil. The German version replaces basil with wild garlic. And to make the pesto tender and thinner, you can add fried zucchini.


You can also pre-fry the pesto garlic for a different taste.

To keep the finished sauce fresh, you need to store it in a glass jar. The butter should completely cover the sauce so it doesn’t spoil or dry out. If the oil is low, you can simply top up the oil to keep the pesto covered.

How to make pesto?  Original recipe and some variations
Photo: Depositphotos

The delicious pesto sauce goes well with many dishes: it is served with spaghetti, rice, meat and fish dishes. You can even use pesto as a spread on sandwiches. And different variations of sauce preparation will make its taste always new, interesting and fresh.


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