Fresh Pesto

Vibrant fresh pesto is lovely on pasta, as a dip, on salads, tarts and fish dishes.   You can use pine nuts for a cost effective / nut free version.



Ready In:

20 min



Skills covered

Knife skills, Seasoning, Blending


By: Chloe Coker

Pesto is a lovely thing to make.  An authentic pesto is made in a pestle and mortar but this quick one is made in a blender.  Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts but they expensive so you can swap in sunflower seeds for a cheaper / nut free version – it won’t be quite the same but it is still nice.


30g pine nuts (or use sunflower seed for a cheaper / nut free version)
30g fresh basil
30g parmesan, grated (Leave out for a dairy free/vegan version)
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
60-90 ml olive oil
zest of ½ lemon
squeeze of lemon juice
optional: pinch of dried chilli flakes


  • Place the pine nuts/sunflower seeds in a jug/food processor with the basil, parmesan if you are using it, garlic, lemon juice and zest (and chilli flakes if you are using them) and olive oil. Blitz until smooth with a hand blender/food processor.  If you are dairy free and not using parmesan add a generous pinch of salt
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste with extra lemon if needed
  • Serve with pasta, fish, on salads and tarts
  • The pesto will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in a clean jar with a thin layer or oil on top or put it into an ice cube tray and freeze it – once it is frozen you can transfer the cubes of pesto to a freezer bag / tuppaware.

Tips, Tricks and Teaching Info

Change the Flavour

You don’t have to make pesto with basil – you can use wild garlic (I would use half basil or rocket and half wild garlic), rocket, watercress, tomatoes, roasted peppers, roasted beetroot etc

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a good nut alternatively for creaminess and texture. They are also great for making vegan thick and creamy salad dressings that would typically have dairy in them


Store for a couple of days in a clean pot in the fridge with a small layer of olive oil on top.  To keep it longer freeze it in ice cube trays and once it is frozen transfer the cubes of pesto to a freezer bag