Iconic Basil Pesto Sauce
Recipes > Condiments To Make > Iconic Basil Pesto Sauce

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Recipe Checklist:
  • 4 oz. (½ Cup) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 oz. (½ Cup) Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Washed
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 T of Pine Nuts (Toasted)
  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Tools & Equipment
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Kitchen Towel
  • Food Processor or Blender
  • Spatula
  • Measuring Cup
  • Measuring Spoons
Estimated Time
20 Minutes
App. 1 cup of Basil Pesto
+ -

Smart Kitchen's online cooking school, teaches how to make an Iconic Basil Pesto Sauce in this recipe.

Pesto is an iconic condiment for starches, vegetables and meats. This recipe is quick and easy to make. Nuts like pine nuts or walnuts can be added, as can other vegetables like artichoke hearts, spinach or asparagus. Consider this recipe a basic version from which you can expand on.

Let's begin to make this recipe, by following below.


Making pesto is very straight forward and only involves prepping your ingredients and then combining and purèeing them until they are at your desired consistency.  For a rougher chopped pesto, chop the ingredients less finely. For a finer pesto, purèe them a bit more. Using The 4 Levers of Cooking™we will first Organize, then Prepare, then perform the Cooking Process, in this case not actually cooking but operating the food processor or wielding the Chef’s Knife. You can exhibit “Flair” in the plating and presentation, the combination with other foods or in how you adapt the recipe to show your cooking personality.

1.       Prep your ingredients.

a. De-stem your Basil leaves by pulling the leaves from the stems.

b. Peel your Garlic and retain 2 large cloves. Smart Kitchen teaches how to peel Garlic in Lesson 2: Basic Knife Skills, Topic 5: Peeling, Exercise 3: Peeling Garlic. Rough chop the clove so that you can measure it to 2 oz. by weight or 4 T with a measuring spoon or cup. Smart Kitchen teaches measuring dry ingredients in Lesson 3: Food Preparation Basics,Topic 2: Introduction to Measurements & Abbreviations, Exercise 6: Measuring Dry Ingredients – Cups & Spoons.

c. Grate your Parmesan Cheese. Smart Kitchen teaches about cheese in Lesson 5: Simple Breakfast, Topic 4: Dairy – Cheese.


2.  Cooking Process. Combine the Parmesan Cheese, Toasted Pine Nuts, the Basil Leaves and the Garlic in a Food Processor. Give the ingredients 3-4 pulses of the processor. Hold and take a second and to scrape down the sides of the processor vessel with a Spatula. Scraping down the sides returns the ingredients to the floor of the vessel where they can be acted upon by the blade. Secure the lid and drizzle in the Olive Oil as you pulse long enough, or frequently enough to achieve your ultimate desired consistency. Season with Salt & Pepper to taste.

a.  Alternatively, Rough Chop or Purèe your ingredients, together or combined, until they reach your desired consistency and then mix them with the Olive Oil. Smart Kitchen teaches Chopping and Purèeing in Lesson 12: Intermediate Knife Skills, Topic 3: Further Cuts

3.       Flair. You can exhibit Flair in how you present and plate the pesto.

a.  Flair can also be exhibited in how you adapt the recipe above. Add in Peppers? Add in Spinach? In lieu of the Basil Leaves or in addition to them. Add in 2 oz. Toasted Pine Nuts? Smart Kitchen teaches how to Skillet Toast Pine Nuts in Lesson 4: Introduction to Cooking Methods, Topic 2: Dry Heat Methods, Exercise 10. Skillet Toasting – Pine Nuts.  How about adding chopped Walnuts, or Peanuts? The options are only bounded by your tastes and imagination. 

*Storage-Basil Pesto Sauce should be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator. This recipe will be at its best 3-4 days, after it's been made.