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Pesto sauce

While it’s one of my favourite pasta sauces, I hadn’t yet made pesto for Nicholas. I generally have it out of a jar, but I’m still rather anal about giving Nicholas ready-made food of any description, so I needed to make it from scratch.

It’s really not that difficult (it’s just blending the ingredients) and by making it, you can adjust the amount of cheese, the amount of oil and so on to your munchkin’s and your taste.

pesto sauce

Traditionally you should use a mortar and pestle to gently crush and mix the ingredients together, not rip the delicate basil leaves apart with the sharp metallic blades of a food processor. I use a mini food processor (don’t tell anyone).

I’ve read tips including to use a plastic blade in your food processor, and putting the bowl and blade in the fridge beforehand to cool down (you don’t want the blades to be heating up the sauce as you’re making it). The only tip I do follow is to blend on a slow speed and to use the pulse button rather than let the blades continuously spin (again it’s trying to avoid heating up the sauce).

Many traditional Italian recipes for pesto use some grated pecorino as well as parmesan. If I was making this just for adults, I’d substitute 2 tablespoons of the parmesan with pecorino, but as pecorino is a much saltier cheese, I’ve left it out altogether. I also haven’t used any salt in this child-friendly version; you could add a pinch with the garlic if you wanted.


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 0 mins
Makes 4 adult servings
Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days (cover with a layer of olive oil)

1 clove of garlic
50g fresh basil leaves, washed and completely dry
1 tbsp pine nuts
6 tbsp grated parmesan
100ml extra virgin olive oil

In a small food processor, blend the clove of garlic until it’s creamy.

Add the basil leaves and process until the leaves are fairly evenly broken up.

Add the pine nuts then the parmesan, 1 spoonful at a time.

Slowly pour in the oil and blend until completely combined and creamy.


  • walnuts are a traditional substitute for pine nuts, but you do need to skin them otherwise the sauce will be very bitter
  • substitute 2 tablespoons of the parmesan with grated pecorino if serving to adults

Other uses:

  • serve over a baked potato
  • use as a dip for vegetables

Seeing the pesto-covered farfalle pasta has given me an idea for another Christmas-inspired cute lunch, but you’re going to have to wait till tomorrow to see that!

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