How to Make Your Own Pesto

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Traditional pesto is made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese. It’s delicious served with pasta, spread on sandwiches, and as a base for your favorite homemade pizza. The problem is, it can be expensive to make. Pine nuts are not cheap and those tiny plastic containers of basil at the grocery store can set you back a few bucks too. Of course, you could always grow your own basil, but I thought I would share a way for you to make pesto out of whatever green that you have on hand. Whether it be fresh herbs or something more hearty like beet tops, you’ll be able to put your own stamp on things.

I make pesto from pretty much anything that’s green. Basil, parsley, beet tops, dandelion greens, and my all time favorite – garlic scapes. I also like to mix up the type of nut that I add in, not only to save a bit of money, but also add some variety to the flavour of the pesto. At any given time, you can find at least one batch of pesto in my freezer. I like to make it in bulk from fresh ingredients as they are available throughout the summer, and then freeze it for use in the winter. It’s best to leave the Parmesan cheese out if you are going to freeze the pesto (just add it to thawed pesto prior to using). Freeze the pesto in large portions if you have a big family, or in empty ice cube trays for individual portions.

Here’s how to make your own pesto. You can make pesto vegan friendly and/or nut free if needed (see recipe notes).

  1. Choose a green (dandelion greens, beet greens, radish, carrot, or turnip tops, basil, cilantro, parsley, garlic scapes, kale, etc.)
  2. Choose a nut (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
  3. Mix together with Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil

That’s it!

Homemade Pesto

With this recipe, you can make almost any kind of pesto.  Choose your own herb or leafy green and nut or seed combo, then mix it all together with the cheese, garlic, and olive oil.  
PREP TIME10 mins
COURSE: Condiment
CUISINE: American, Italian


  • 2 cups fresh herbs or leafy green, chopped
  • 1/3 cup nuts or seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • Add greens, nuts, Parmesan, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped. You may need to stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
  • With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until the desired thickness is reached. You may need to add more than 1/4 cup of olive oil if you prefer your pesto on the thinner side.


Omit the Parmesan cheese if you plan to freeze the pesto.  Add it in after it's thawed out, just before use.
You can substitute half the amount of nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese if you are vegan.

What’s your favorite way of serving pesto?

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