Basic Basil Pesto

May/June 2008, August/September 2005, The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook (2006)

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (93 votes)

Simplicity reigns in this traditional sauce—just basil, garlic, cheese and olive oil. Our one modification? We like omega-3-laden walnuts in the mix for their crunch and delicate flavor, but pine nuts, almonds, pecans or even pistachios may be substituted for the walnuts.

"I loved this. It's delicious, and a reasonable amount of calories without less flavor. I'd half the salt and after you mix it see if you want more though, just FYI (the cheese is salty.) "
Basic Basil Pesto

Makes: About 1 cup

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Total Time:


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, (2-3 bunches)
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 large clove garlic, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Place basil, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: To toast walnuts: Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes.


Per 2-tablespoon serving: 83 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 2 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 176 mg sodium; 104 mg potassium.

Exchanges: 2 fat

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