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Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

Leigh Belanger
The uses for this ubiquitous condiment are many—but spreading it on chewy bread for a pizza-inspired grilled cheese is one of our favorites.

Makes about 1 cup


  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts skins removed
  • 1 large clove garlic peeled and crushed
  • 3 packed cups basil leaves roughly chopped or torn
  • Scant ½ cup parsley leaves optional
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese finely grated
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  • Pulse walnuts and garlic in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add basil and parsley (if using), and pulse again until a coarse paste forms. Add olive oil in a slow stream, pulsing as you go, until combined.
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in cheese and lemon zest. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Leigh Belanger

Leigh Belanger is culture's former food editor. She's been a food writer, editor, and project manager for over a decade— serving as program director for Chefs Collaborative and contributing to local newspapers and magazines. Her first book, The Boston Homegrown Cookbook, was published in 2012. She lives and cooks in Boston with her family.