• ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (or substitute almonds or walnuts)
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves (optional)
  • cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
  • Ground black pepper


1. 3/4 cups of pesto is enough for one pound of pasta.
2. Toast the nuts in a small, heavy non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes; set aside. Add the garlic to the empty skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 5 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then peel, and chop.
3. Place the basil and parsley (if using) in a heavy-duty 1-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Pound the bag with the flat side of a meat pounder or rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.
4. Process the nuts, garlic, herbs, oil, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. STEP BY STEP: Bruising the Basil
6. Bruising basil leaves with a meat pounder (or rolling pin) is a quick but effective substitute for hand-pounding with a mortar and pestle.


Pounding the basil releases its flavorful oils into the pesto more readily. Basil usually darkens in homemade pesto, but you can boost the green color a little by adding the optional parsley. For sharper flavor, substitute one tablespoon finely grated pecorino Romano cheese for one tablespoon of the Parmesan. The pesto can be kept in an airtight container, covered with a thin layer of oil (1 to 2 tablespoons), and refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to one month.



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Cook's Illustrated


Servings: 4
Yield: 3/4 cup