Fresh Basil Pesto

While basil is our featured item of the week, we’ll feature a classic basil pesto recipe here, but pesto is one of those highly versatile dishes you can change with the season using any herb or herb combination. You can even make it with greens like collards or kale, it doesn’t even have to be herbs - just combine nuts (if you want to keep it totally local, pecans make an excellent substitute to expensive pine nuts), oil and cheese (or not if you prefer a vegan variety) with a star ingredient of your choice for a sauce you can use not only on pasta but in soups, in eggs, as a marinade, dabbed on top of a piece of fish, the possibilities are endless. If you’ve ever tried and failed at homemade pesto before, the key to perfect texture is to combine all the dry ingredients, process until smooth, and only then drizzle the oil in. We recommend making a big batch and freezing it in small portions so you can pull some out any time of year to enjoy.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste


Pulse basil and pine nuts in a food processor: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times.

Add the garlic and cheese: Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

Stream in the olive oil: While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor.

Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper, add more to taste: Toss with pasta for a quick sauce, dollop over baked potatoes, or spread onto crackers or toasted slices of bread.

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Market Umbrella


Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.

Crescent City Farmers Market


The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.