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Basil is such a hearty herb to grow. If you are a novice gardener and forget about it for a bit, your basil will still thrive and provide plenty of delicious leaves to harvest all summer long. I only have room for a small backyard garden so everything I plant has to count. Basil always makes the cut!

My family loves eating this delicious basil pesto recipe. The nights my homemade pesto is on the menu, I often get a lot more affection than I bargined for from my dear husband. Pesto is to my husband as honey is to Winnie the Pooh!

The best part about making your own fresh pesto sauce is it freezes really well. You can throw together a gourmet dinner from work your did two months ago!

In this post I will share with you my super yummy basil pesto recipe that was passed down to me from my mother. I know your family will love it!

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I was lucky enough to spend an entire month of the summer at my parents house in Tennessee during peak harvest time. I got to enjoy the benefits of all the hard work that Nana puts into her garden every year. She kindly allowed me to harvest some of her basil for this recipe in exchange for my making dinner.

The first thing you should do after you harvest your basil is to give it a quick rinse. You don’t need to worry about soaking or scrubbing anything. Rinsing the basil is just to get the bugs off. We want to preserve the natural oils and microbiome of the plant, because that where the health benefits of eating fresh and raw are preserved.


Shake the basil stalks a few times to get the extra water off, separate the leaves, and lay them flat on a towel to dry.

While the basil is drying, preheat the oven to 375. Arrange the raw pine nuts flat on a cookie sheet.

Roast them at 375 for 6 minutes.


The pine nuts will go from a soft cream to a golden color.

If you want you can also keep the pine nuts raw for this recipe. Roasting them adds more flavor but you will lose some of the nutrients by cooking them.

Peel 5 garlic cloves while you wait for the pine nuts to roast. Add the basil leaves (about 4 cups), garlic cloves, roasted pine nuts, salt and pepper to a food processor.

Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Scrape down the sides down of the food processor to get the larger chuncks incorporated and then blend on high again while slowly adding 1/2 cup of olive oil. The pesto should be smooth but still retain some texture.

Add 1 cup of parmesan cheese to the food processor and blend for 30 seconds.

When you are ready to serve your pesto, heat it up on medium for 5 minutes so it’s nice and warm. Be sure to stir it occassionally so it won’t burn. 

Your house will smell amazing!

If you want to make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it, don’t add the parmesan cheese. Wait until your defrost the pesto to add the parmesan. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Also try my family’s homemade salsa recipe! It’s the best salsa you will ever have!

Healthy Basil Pesto Recipe

Course Sauce
Keyword Basil Pesto Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coarse ground pepper


  1. Preheat over to 375
  2. Gather fresh basil from the garden or a potted plant from the store. Cut the stalks, rinse under water, seperate the leaves, and lay out to dry while you gather the remainder of the ingredients
  3. Peel the garlic cloves
  4. Spread pine nuts on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 6 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Add basil leaves, roasted pine nuts, garlic cloves, salt, and fresh ground pepper to a food processor
  6. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and blend on high for 30 seconds again while slowly adding the olive oil.
  8. Add grated parmesan cheese to pesto and pulse on high to mix about 30 seconds
  9. Use a spatula to transfer pesto into a saucepan and heat thoroughly on medium for about 5 minutes
  10. Serve over meat, pasta, or as a spread for bread