Universal Pesto Recipe

Here’s the thing about pesto: you can use any combination of green things, nuts, and hard cheese to make it—just be sure to stick to this formula so you’re combining ingredients in the right ratio. Pine nuts, for example, are traditional but can be pricey. Try walnuts or a combo of odd nuts you have on hand. We wanted to bring you the best recipe for pesto that exists, so we tested out several steps that are common in pesto recipes, including toasting the nuts and blanching the greens. Toasting the nuts wasn’t worth it: we couldn’t distinguish pesto with toasted nuts from pesto with untoasted nuts. However, blanching the greens not only turned the pesto a vibrant green color but also prevented it from ever turning brown—even after it was frozen.

universal-pesto-recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree
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  • Makes 2 ½ cups
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    Nutritional Information

    Per Serving

    • Calories 194 calories
    • Fat 20 g
    • Sat Fat 4 g
    • Cholesterol 7 mg
    • Sodium 321 mg
    • Protein 3 g
    • Carbohydrate 2 g
    • Sugar 0 g
    • Fiber 0 g
Here’s the thing about pesto: you can use any combination of green things, nuts, and hard cheese to make it—just be sure to stick to this formula so you’re combining ingredients in the right ratio. Pine nuts, for example, are traditional but can be pricey. Try walnuts or a combo of odd nuts you have on hand. We wanted to bring you the best recipe for pesto that exists, so we tested out several steps that are common in pesto recipes, including toasting the nuts and blanching the greens. Toasting the nuts wasn’t worth it: we couldn’t distinguish pesto with toasted nuts from pesto with untoasted nuts. However, blanching the greens not only turned the pesto a vibrant green color but also prevented it from ever turning brown—even after it was frozen.

Ingredients

  1. Check 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for blanching herbs
  2. Check 8 packed cups mixed fresh tender herbs or greens, such as basil, parsley, arugula, kale, or spinach
  3. Check ½ cup nuts or seeds, such as pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, or sunflower seeds
  4. Check 3 cloves garlic
  5. Check cups olive oil
  6. Check 2 cups freshly grated hard aged cheese, such as Parmesan or pecorino

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set nearby. Add herbs to boiling water and cook until bright green, about 10 seconds. Transfer to ice bath with a slotted spoon. When cool, drain and squeeze dry.
  2. Combine herbs, nuts or seeds, garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt in a food processor; process until very finely minced.
  3. Drizzle in oil with the machine running and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  4. Add cheese and pulse to combine.
  5. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 1 week. Or transfer to resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to 4 months; thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  6. Toss with pasta, spread on sandwiches, or stir into yogurt to make a quick dip.