Pesto Sauce

(recipe, Jamie Oliver)

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Pesto can be made in a food processor, but it is best made in a mortar and pestle. I don't know why; I suppose it’s because pounding and bruising the basil leaves seems to extract more of the beautiful flavors.


  1. ¼ garlic clove, chopped
  2. 3 good handfuls of fresh basil leaves
  3. 1 handful of lightly roasted pine nuts, cooled
  4. 1 handful of grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Extra-virgin olive oil
  6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. Small squeeze of lemon juice (optional)


  1. Put the garlic into a mortar and pestle. (If you like a strong garlic taste, you can add more, but I stick to about ¼ clove, which is still quite strong when raw.) Pound this with your fresh basil leaves. Add the golden roasted pine nuts to the mixture and pound.
  2. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan cheese. Gently stir this in and add the olive oil, just enough to bind the sauce and get it to the right consistency: semi-wet but firm.
  3. Taste the mixture, and add a little salt and pepper and the rest of the cheese. Add some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a little bit of this and a little bit more of that until you get it right. (There are no real rules for making pesto, but as long as you make it fresh and use the best ingredients, it’ll always taste superb.)
  4. When you taste it for the last time, it might need a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the fragrance of the basil.