Summer Pesto

Summertime, summertime. Nothing says summer like beautiful bunches of basil gracing your kitchen counter, just waiting to be transformed into pesto.

One of my favorite summertime traditions is getting all my pesto ingredients set up in the kitchen on a weekend morning, turning on NPR, and making many batches of this herby goodness. I like to use some now and freeze the rest for later, so that I can dip into it all year long and bring summer back into my life whenever I need it.

Make loads of this. You’ll never run out of ways to use it.



Total time:

30 minutes


  • 1/2 cup raw pine nuts
  • 8 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 cups (packed) basil leaves, rinsed (no stems)
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of very good olive oil (plus an extra plug at the end)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese


  • In a food processor, combine the pine nuts and garlic. Blend for about 30 seconds, until well combined, like a lumpy paste.
  • Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper. Blend, and while blending slowly drizzle the olive oil in through the top spout. It will all start to incorporate beautifully. Stop once to scrape down the sides then continue.
  • Add the cheese. Blend / pulse for about 10 seconds, until just combined. Taste for seasoning.
  • Add the final glug of oil (about a tablespoon or two). Blend for a second and then you’ve got it.

Pillar Tips:

  • This is a raw sauce, and it’s composed of very few ingredients, so each ingredient has to be stellar. Use fresh garlic (not pre-peeled or chopped). Get nice-looking fresh basil. Buy Parm-Reg cheese and grate it yourself so it’s fresh and full of flavor. Make sure your olive oil is top notch. You will taste all the flavors, so you want them to be GREAT. 
  • You can freeze this pesto in ice cube trays (cover with plastic wrap) or in little plastic sandwich bags (sealed tight, no air). Freezing in single servings means you use only what you need and don’t have to re-freeze. 
  • If you double this recipe, I suggest you do it in batches, not all at once. 
  • This pesto is fabulous not only on pasta but also in vegetable soup, roast tomato soup, salad dressing, on warm new potatoes… just endless possibilities. 
Print Recipe

Other Recommended Recipes