Finally... and The Herbal Touch Pesto & Salsa Fest Recipes

Looking at pesto to create your own recipe.

The recipe(s) we are creating &/or referencing for Pesto includes:

Basil Leaves

Fresh leaves washed only just before use, and dried with the least amount of damage possible to the leaves. (damage to the leaves releases the oils which are an essential ingredient to the pesto. The freshest and most tender basils will yield the better pesto.


Freshly dried garlic, cleaned of husks and preferably NOT crushed in a "garlic press."


Adding a more intense "green" to the pesto, freshening the taste sensation and stretching the basil, just a bit.

Nut Meats

Traditionally pine nuts (seeds from a large species of pine trees, found in Northern Italy) or perhaps walnuts. Breaking from tradition, pestos to-day are often blended with almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, or sunflower seeds, alone or in combination.


Parmesan, or Parmesan Reggiano will be called for in most recipes. Pecorino or Pecorino Romano is often listed. You might have a favourite grated cheese that you prefer to use in your pesto. Other cheeses may be used. Fact is the better the cheese, the better the pesto.

Olive Oil

Olive oil, virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil..... once again, the better the ingredient, the better the pesto. The recommendation here is to use the best quality olive oil that you can rationalize for the pesto.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet red, orange or yellow bell peppers may be added to pesto. They will add sweetness and colour, so watch your colour and amount additions. Caution is suggested if considering green peppers. Personal preference is that green pepper is a coloured pepper that has not yet ripened. Given time green peppers will change colour.


An idea from the Italian mother-in-law of this year's winner of the RBG Herb Harvest Festival Pesto contest. "Fresh squeezed juice or a bit of zest". This will decrease the "need" for salt while awakening many of the flavour sensations within the pesto. It is often easier to add a bit of juice than to get out the zester, avoid the pit, and have to throw our the rest of the lemon later


Dry mustard, a personal addition which I often make, just to wake up whatever I have added it to. Avoid being over zealous with the mustard or you well get a mucky sensation.


Chicken or vegetable stock may be substituted for part (recommendations are for about 1/3 - 3/4 by volume) of the olive oil. This will lower the fat content of the pesto. Caution should be exercised with stocks - they are often laced with salt.

Pine nuts must be fresh. If they taste at all soapy, trash them. Some pestos call for toasted pine nuts, and this may be a matter of personal preference. If toasting pine nuts, use a low heat and short toasting time.

A little about pesto

"Pesto" comes from the Italian Pestare, meaning to pound or grind. Though traditionalists still like to use a mortar and pestle, pesto can be made very quickly in a food processor. Those of you that are familiar with Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet might find it interesting that he promotes that pesto be made in a blender, but not in a food processor.
The French have a very parallel food item, Pistou. Which, in the reference material available, even referenced the Italian Pesto and acknowledged the derivation for the name as having been rooted from Pesater.

Pistou: A condiment from Provence, made of fresh basil crushed with garlic and olive oil. The word (derived from the Italian Pestare, to pound) is also used for the vegetable and vermicelli soup to which it is added. The condiment, sometimes supplemented by parmesan cheese and tomatoes, is very similar to the Italian pesto, a specialty of Genoa used to season pasta and soups, which consists of a thick sauce made of olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and fresh basil.

Pesto: This is a classic Italian sauce, originally from Genoa, that is used for hot pasta and pasta salads, or for flavouring. The southern French equivalent, Pestou (made without pine nuts, is stirred into vegetable soups. To store pesto, put it in a glass jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to seal it. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate. It will keep for at least a week. Pesto also freezes particularly well. without loss of flavour or colour.

Recipe 1 - Makes 1¾ cups/450ml

1c 45g Basil leaves, washed and dried
6 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/3c 40g Pine nuts
1c 125g Grated parmesan cheese
3/4c 175ml Olive oil
Salt & Pepper  
In a food processor, puree the basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese with 2-3 Tb/30-45ml olive oil. With the blade turning, slowly add the remaining oil so the sauce emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe 2 - Makes 1½ pints/750ml

12oz 360g Olive oil
3oz 90g Pine nuts
6oz 180g Fresh basil leaves
1Tb 15ml Garlic, chopped
4oz 120g Parmesan cheese, grated
4oz 120g Romano cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper TT
Place one third of the olive oil in a blender or food processor and add all the remaining ingredients
Blend or process until smooth. Add the remaining olive oil and blend a few seconds to incorporate.
Variation: Walnut pesto: Substitute walnuts for pine nuts.
Tremblay, Yvonne; Homemaker's (magazine) Sept 1997, Telemedia Comm Inc. Toronto
La Varenne Pratique, William, Anne; Macmillam of Canada, Canada Publishing Group, Toronto 1989 Page 17
On Cooking: Labensky, Sarah R. & Hause, Alan M.; Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA. Recipe 23, 27. Page 654.

Recipe 3 - Pesto Sauce Jeff Smith / Frugal Gourmet

4c Packed fresh basil
½c Virgin olive oil
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed
6 Parsley sprigs
Salt & Pepper To taste
½c Pine nuts, walnuts or almonds
½c Fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese
Place basil in blender and chop. Add olive oil, garlic, parsley, nuts, salt & pepper.
Blend until chopped fine, not smooth.

Recipe 4 - Pesto Chatelaine Food Express from Chatelaine Magazine

In food processor whirl 3 large cloves of garlic, ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Add 1½ cups of fresh basil leaves and puree.
With the machine running, drizzle ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil.
Stir in 1 cup of grated parmesan.
This can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to one week or it may be frozen.
Makes 2 cups.

Recipe 5 - Four Basil Pesto (Charlottes Garden) Martha's Vineyard Cookbook, Louis Tate King & Jean Stewart Wexler

4 Large cloves of garlic
1c Walnut meats
¾c Virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper To Taste
½c Lemon basil
½c Cinnamon basil
½c Lettuce leaf basil
½c Sweet basil
1c Grated parmesan cheese
¼c Grated romano cheese
In a food processor pulse the garlic and nuts until fine.
Add the olive oil , salt & pepper. Pulse.
Add all of the basils and pulse to medium fine consistency.
Add cheese, pulse to mix.
Makes 1½ cups. Oil to prevent darkening.

Recipe 6 - Pesto alla Genovese Loronzo de' Mediei

1c Fresh basil (4" plants)
Salt To taste
3T Fresh grated parmesan cheese
2T Fresh grated pecorino romano cheese
3T Pine nuts
2 Cloves of garlic
½c Virgin olive oil
In food processor whirl basil with salt until chopped
Add other ingredients and process until smooth.
Add 1¼ cups pasta water and mix.
Pour over well drained pasta and serve.

Recipe 7 - Pesto Capriel Pence

1c Basil leaves (4 oz.)
3 Cloves of garlic
¼c Pine nuts or walnuts (4 oz.)
½c Extra virgin olive oil
Puree basil, garlic, and nuts.
Gradually add extra virgin olive oil, blending thoroughly.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe 8 - Pesto Dean and Delucca Cookbook

1c Packed fresh basil leaves
2T Pine nuts
2T Minced garlic
6T Ligurian or Provencal olive oil
2t Packed parmesan reggianp
Salt & Pepper To taste
Wash and dry the basil
Place in food processor with the pine nuts and the garlic. Process quickly to a coarse grainy paste.
With the motor running, add the olive oil over the course of 5 seconds.
Remove to a bowl. (Should be fairly grainy).
In bowl, add cheeses, mix well (if too thick, add olive oil to desired consistency. There should be some oil glistening around the edges).
Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  • 1998 Fest Information and date for the 1998 Pesto & Salsa Fest
  • Pictures Photos from the 1997 Fest
  • Pictures More photos from the 1997 Salsa Fest
  • Recipes Recipes from the 1997 Pesto & Salsa Fest

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