Back to Basics: Homemade Basil Pesto

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For the past two years, I’ve planted basil seeds throughout the garden, only to have a single seed germinate each time.

But each time, that single basil plant has grown Jack-and-the-Beanstalk ginormous and as a result, has provided plenty of basil during the summer months.

By harvesting only the top half of the plant, it grew bushier and bushier, yielding increasing amounts of basil.

The basil bush that keeps on giving.

Basil is certainly one of my favourite herbs and I love growing it; it is much tastier picking it straight from the garden, rather than cooking with lank cuttings from the fridge.

And my favourite way to eat it: pesto. Fresh pesto tossed through zucchini noodles.


The last time I purchased bottled pesto, I was surprised at several things: the pick-me-up-off-the-floor price, how salty it tasted, that it had sugar in it and that it used sunflower oil rather than the traditional olive oil.

You can make basil in the food processor, but I like to use an old fashioned mortar and pestle. Breathing in the aroma of the basil and the garlic while you pound away makes the experience so much more sensual and chefy than simply throwing everything into a noisy contraption.

I buy pine nuts either from the bulk bins at the health food store, or from the supermarket when they are on sale. Alternatively, you can use sunflower seeds, almonds or cashews – this will reduce the cost but will still taste great.

Pesto can be frozen for up to four months, so it’s a great way to make the most of a basil bounty.

Pesto Ingredients | Homemade Pesto | Frugal and Thriving
Yield: 1 cup

Homemade Basil Pesto

Homemade Basil Pesto

Have an abundance of basil in the garden? Why not make your own pesto either in a food processor or mortar and pestle.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • pinch of course salt
  • 1 1/2 cups or so of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 60 grams of parmesan cheese, grated
  • a glug or two of olive oil


  1. Pound the garlic with a tiny pinch of salt in the mortar and pestle. The salt helps everything grind to a paste.
  2. If you use a food processor, you can leave the salt out, but a little does bring out the flavour of the ingredients. Go easy on it though, parmesan is pretty salty.
  3. Tear the basil leaves into the mortar and give those a pound until roughly ground. Add in the pine nuts and grind everything to desired consistency.
  4. Stir in the parmesan cheese and oil. Taste and add extra parmesan as desired.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 304mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

Nutritional information is calculated automatically using the Nutritionix database. Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, serving size or the source of nutrition data. We strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy. We encourage readers to make their own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Basil from garden to plate | Homemade Pesto Recipe | Frugal and Thriving

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  1. A way to save money on this and I love it just as much as with pine nuts is to use walnuts. Much better value and amazing. I make a huge batch and freeze it in little jars so it’s always on hand. I was very disappointed with 3 types of bought pesto I use to buy. Nothing compares to homemade. We grow our own basil too.

    1. Good tip, thanks. I haven’t tried with walnuts – I love them so looking forward to giving them a go.