Fresh Basil Pesto With Almonds

by mfollo

Making fresh pesto at home is super easy and tastes so much better than any store bought variety. Give it a try.

Pesto is a well known traditional italian sauce that is made with Genovese Basil, garlic, grated cheese and pine nuts. Those are the basic ingredients, however there are many variations to this fabulous and versatile sauce. It is one of my favorite home-made sauces to make because it is so versatile. It's delicious on spaghetti and gnocchi of course. But it can also be used as a spread on sandwiches, mixed in with your favorite salad dressing for a great boost of flavor, added to soups (broths and creams) to give them added taste, and brushed on grilled chicken or other meats.
While pesto is available to be purchased ready-made at most grocery stores, I urge you to try making it at home with fresh ingredients. The taste is so much better and it is such an easy recipe that you will never go back to the store-bought variety. Perhaps you are lucky enough to grow your own basil in your kitchen garden, or maybe you will need to go out and purchase the fresh basil leaves. Either way it is worth the effort to make this sauce yourself.
In this version of pesto I have substituted the traditional pine nuts with the more readily available, and less expensive, slivered almonds. Of course you can still use pine nuts instead of the almonds if you wish. You can also substitute the parmesan cheese with pecorino or asiago cheese. Both are excellent in pesto.
Traditionally pesto is made with young basil leaves and all ingredients are chopped very very fine by hand or mushed into a paste with a mortar and pestle. That's the way an italian grandmother would have made it and it is undoubtedly excellent made in that fashion. However you can attain a great tasting pesto quickly and easily by simply using your food processor, if it comes with a smaller bowl. The result is far superior to ready-made and in the time it takes to cook your pasta you can have your sauce ready to go.Try it!

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Recipe for home-made Pesto


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (about 40-50 large leaves), washed and dried
  • 2 large cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp grinding of black pepper 
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • in the small bowl of a food processor add all ingredients except olive oil
  • process until finely chopped and well blended
  • slowly add olive oil and continue processing until well blended
  • allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before using so that flavors can meld

*to serve with pasta:

-cook pasta of your choice as directed on package

-drain and return to pot, then add about 2 tbsp of pesto sauce per serving and mix to coat

-transfer to individual plates, top with more grated parmesan cheese and serve

*for variety add 2 tbsp per serving of heavy cream and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes to the pot, when adding the pesto, cover and allow to stand for 2 minutes to heat, then mix together and serve topped with grated parmesan cheese


*makes just over 1/2 cup, enough for 4-6 servings of pasta
*will keep in the fridge for about 5 days

pasta with pesto sauce

Updated: 09/12/2014, mfollo
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mfollo on 09/26/2012

You are all most welcome, I hope you enjoyed it. By the way I have also made this pesto with pistachios and it was excellent! And I have heard of using pumpkin seeds and walnuts as well which I am going to be trying very soon...I will keep you posted!

katiem2 on 09/20/2012

Love all the ingredients in this dish. Can't wait to try it, maybe fresh basil and pesto with almonds will be dinner tonight. Thanks for the inspiration :)K

BrendaReeves on 09/06/2012

Now I know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow night. I love fresh food. Thanks for the recipe.

Mira on 09/05/2012

This is good, healthy stuff. You've inspired me to make some soon, since I have some fresh basil these days, and not much time to cook :-)

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