{Vegetarian} Easy, Budget Friendly Basil Pesto

Pesto, from the Italian word pestare โ€“ to pound, is made by crushing several ingredients together.

Basil Pesto, as the name suggests, uses Basil – my absolute favourite herb.

These days, people just blitz pesto ingredients together in a food processor – but I prefer the taste of a pesto that’s been chopped by hand.

It will take longer to make, but the results are worth it. It’s also a good go-to recipe if you don’t own a food processor, but still want to create this flavorful herb sauce.

Another tweak I have made on the recipe is to use cashew nuts instead of pine.

The reason being – Pine Nuts cost a fortune! A 100g bag costs R120 and cashews are a third of that price and have a very similar taste and texture, so they make a good substitute in this recipe.

Fresh, homemade basil pesto can be used as a marinade for grilled and roast meats, or stirred through a big bowl of pasta for a quick dinner solution.

So, let’s get started. Remember to tag me or comment below if you use this recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚



ยท 150g Fresh, washed Basil leaves
ยท 100g Raw Cashew Nuts
ยท 50 – 60ml Olive Oil and a bit more for later
ยท 3/4 cup of good quality, grated parmesan or “hard cheese” from Woolworths
ยท 1 clove of garlic
ยท Half a Lemon
ยท Crushed Salt to taste
ยท Crushed Pepper to taste

1. Peel skin off the garlic clove and let it sit in 50 ml of Olive oil for 2 hours to infuse the oil. I personally can’t eat garlic due to my LOW FODMAP diet, so I rather infuse the oil with it.

2. Rinse basil and chop finely on a chopping board. Use a chef’s knife like the below one, which will help you to chop

3. Toss the cashews onto the chopping board and chop, chop, chop until fine. This will take a while, so have patience. Then add the grated cheese and chop further

4. Once pesto is finely chopped (should take 15 – 20 minutes), transfer to a bowl and pour the infused olive oil over (get rid of the garlic clove at this point)

5. Using the back of a spoon, mash the basil mixture into the olive oil for 2 minutes

6. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to your taste

7. Pour 10 – 15ml of olive oil over the top of the pesto โ€“ you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency

8. Stir your basil pesto into plain boiled pasta, top it on a cheese sandwich or cracker, or baste it over a cooked chicken breast – basically, you can add it to any dish that needs sprucing up! Basil is very versatile and compliments an array of dishes

9. The basil pesto can be kept frozen for up to 4 months. Transfer half the pesto to a small airtight container and drizzle with olive oil to cover. To defrost, place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until thawed. Donโ€™t forget to stir it up before serving.

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