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  • fromjudyskitchen

How-to: Homemade Pesto

For my birthday a couple months ago, one of my dear friends gave me a mortar & pestle to add on to my collection of kitchen "tools"! The first thing I thought of making was homemade pesto. For years and years, I've used store-bought pesto for my pastas out of laziness to learn how to make it myself. Today, I finally learned how...

While I could easily use my food processor, I'm sometimes a geek for traditional kitchen techniques. (Fun Fact: Apparently, scientists have found remnants of mortars & pestles as far back as 35,000 BC?!). I love the small manual labor involved because, to me, it makes the food taste that much better.

Below is a very simple recipe you should try if you own a mortar & pestle. If you don't, you can just throw it in the food processor too!

While you can add all ingredients into the mortar and then mash, I found it much easier to transform into a paste by only mashing/muddling only a few ingredients at a time.

It will take arm endurance and time to turn your ingredients into a paste. Be patient and rotate between mashing, muddling, or even swirling the pestle. Go wild!

When it's time to add olive oil, it's best to use a good quality brand. I happened to have some from Greece that my best friend gave to me as a souvenir. It was a lovely addition!

Work those muscles! You'll have nice pesto sauce in no time.

Homemade Pesto

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 0 min

Servings: ~4 (enough to use for 3/4 lb. of pasta)


  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (remove stems)

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

  • ~1/8 tsp salt


  • Add garlic and pine nuts to mortar. Use pestle to mash.

  • Add basil leaves and rotate between mashing and muddling the ingredients together until they turn into a paste.

  • Add cheese and olive oil. Continue to mash and muddle until the sauce turn into a paste again.

  • Add black pepper and salt. Add more salt, to taste, as needed.


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