Back to all recipes

Classic Basil Pesto

  • Sauce / Condiment
  • Easy
  • Grace Parisi
  • Fast
  • Side
  • Active Time:15 min
  • Total Time:15 min
  • Servings:1 cup
Photo by Julia Gartland

Italian basil pesto is as timeless and versatile as a little black dress or shawl collar tuxedo. It’s good with almost anything, but great when paired well. Stir a spoonful into softened butter and allow it to melt over a piece of perfectly cooked halibut. Or fold some into pasta with flaky tender pieces of salmon. Sauté some shell-on spot shrimp and finish it with a dollop of butter and pesto—the possibilities are many.


  • 2 cups (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves

  • ¼ cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

  • ¼ cup toasted pinenuts or chopped roasted almonds

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Make the Sauce

In a food processor, combine the basil, parsley, garlic, and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. While the machine is running, add the oil in a steady stream and process until fairly smooth. Add the cheese and butter and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use right away or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.