Recipe: Traditional Pesto Sauce :: Easy Like A Sunday Morning

Recipe: Traditional Pesto Sauce :: Easy Like A Sunday Morning

Easy Like a Sunday Morning, that’s how the recipes in my “Easy” category will be. Nothing rushed or frantic, nothing with a long list of ingredients. Something that is so easy, you don’t really need a recipe. Something that almost cooks itself or requires no cooking at all.

I love Pesto. Simple as that, I just love it!

After deciding to use the word ‘traditional’ in the title I figured I better do a little digging with my handy-dandy google shovel…you know, just to make sure my idea of traditional pesto ingredients lined up with world view and it does! Yay!

Traditional Pesto Sauce

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep’s milk)

Well, I guess my version varies slightly in the cheese department. No cheese made from sheep’s milk here and personally, I prefer Asiago Cheese to Parmesan.

Traditional Pesto Sauce

The first mention of recipe for pesto as it is known today, is from the book La Cuciniera Genovese written in 1863 by Giovanni Battista Ratto. Pesto did not become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.

And there you have it, that’s your food history lesson for the day.

Now a couple more notes here and you’re good to go…as I mentioned, you can switch up the cheese, or if you want to make a Paleo or Vegan version, omit the cheese all together.

Special equipment: you will need a small chopper or food processor (I love my little KRUPS Mini Chopper {affiliate}), or if you wish to keep it truly traditional, you can crush all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle.

There are about a gazillion ways to use pesto sauce. Here are a few ideas…

  • Use pesto in place of tomato sauce on pasta, or on pizza.
  • Mix a little pesto with softened butter, or with mayo and spread it on a sandwich.
  • Stir a spoonful of pesto sauce into your soup, or just drizzle a bit on top as a garnish.
  • Add a little more oil to pesto sauce and use as a salad dressing.
  • Mix with softened butter to create a herb butter and brush on grilled chicken or fish.
  • Use as a baked potato topping.


Traditional Pesto Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Gluten Free | Grain Free | Sugar Free | Egg Free | Vegetarian | Dairy Free (option) | Vegan (option) | Paleo (option)
  • 1/4 Cup pine nuts
  • 1 bunch basil leaves (about 1 1/2 Cups packed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Cup Asiago, or Parmesan, or Romano cheese, grated *** see notes for dairy free
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  1. Toast the pine nuts: In a heavy bottom saucepan, spread the pine nuts out in a single layer. Heat on medium-high, stirring or shaking constantly for 4-5 minutes or until nuts become fragrant and lightly browned. Note: if you're crunched for time you can skip this step. I've made Pesto with raw pine nuts and it turned out fine.
  2. In a small chopper, or food processor, add pine nuts, basil, and garlic. Pulse until everything is evenly chopped. Add cheese (if using) and oil. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Use immediately, or keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  4. Pesto sauce freezes quite well.
If you want to make a Dairy Free, Paleo or Vegan version, omit the cheese all together.


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To see a text listing of Laureen’s gluten free recipes, click here
For dairy, egg, nut and gluten free flour substitutions, click here


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Laureen Fox
Laureen is an enthusiastic amateur cook and Canadian Food Blogger from Vancouver BC. She loves spending her days creating good wholesome food in this Fox Kitchen. Evenings will find her blogging about the best that living without gluten has to offer.

This post is linked to the following events:

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