Pesto is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make use of summer's prolific herbs, and at the same time create a flavorful uncooked condiment. The classic pesto, which originated in Genoa, Italy, is made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and olive oil. The ingredients can either be crushed with a mortar and pestle or finely chopped in a food processor. With the popularity of herb gardens, home cooks today use a combination of basil, parsley, mint, chives, cilantro, etc., to make appetizing pesto to can or freeze. The many ways to use pesto is as varied as the ingredient mix. A favorite stirred into hot pasta, pesto is also great served over a goat cheese-topped crostini, drizzled over sautéed tomatoes, or mixed with mayonnaise to bump up the flavor. For the best results, use freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. Pre-shredded cheese can contain additives that prevent the cheese from clumping, and if you are using straight-from-the-garden herbs to make your pesto, you certainly don't want any additives or anti-clumping agents ruining the freshness factor. And don't be afraid to play around with the herb rations in the recipe—if you like more basil, add more basil. If you want a little more of the mild chive flavor, add more of that, as well. Related to the onion and leek, chives are extremely easy to grow in your herb garden. Snip the slender, hollow stems with scissors to the desired length, and add to your dishes toward the end of the cooking time to retain the flavor. Both chives and their edible lavender flowers are a tasty and colorful addition to salads. Pesto is often confused with Chimichurri, a thick herb sauce as popular in South America as ketchup is in the United States.  


Credit: Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe Summary test

10 mins
10 mins
Makes 3/4 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Process all ingredients in a food processor until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Use immediately, or cover and chill up to 1 day.