Best pesto


Pesto is a love language and everyone wants to be spoken to. It’s the safety net, the comfort favorite, and the ultimate go-to. If I’m cooking for people whose taste buds I don’t know, or am feeling weary about serving something “interesting” or “different”, I do not take the road less traveled by. I take the one lined with pesto. 

I grew up loving pesto, too. When my mom was raising my sister and me and was Mom-level crazy busy, an easy dinner was pasta dumped with the store bought stuff which still blew my socks off. Much later, I made my own and subsequently had a mini life revelation. If I was already in love with the store bought stuff, I wanted to propose to the homemade version.

This is pesto, leveled up. It adds butter and olive oil instead of just olive oil. When added to anything that’s steaming hot, the butter melts and imparts the luxury it’s notorious for. Yes, this recipe has dairy because it also has cheese in addition to the butter, but I’ve included a whole30 version below using ghee & omitting the parmesan cheese for a little more nuts & lemon zest.

If someone is intimidated by making this at home, I see no reason for it. All you need to do is blitz the ingredients in a food processor and you are DONE. Italian grandmothers would scoff at me because they take the time to chop e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g by hand until it becomes a paste, but I know that’s not practical for the home cook. The taste, however, is practical and lovely to anyone and everyone no matter how it’s done.

Best pesto
  1. 3 cups packed basil leaves (from about 3 branches)
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 1/4 cup pine nuts
  4. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. 3 cups packed basil leaves (from about 3 branches)
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 1/2 cup pine nuts
  4. 4 tablespoons ghee, softened
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  7. Zest of 1 lemon
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a food processor or blender, place all of the ingredients. Process until it forms a thick paste, about 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and lemon juice (for the dairy-free version), if needed.
  1. Some people are pine nut purists when it comes to pesto, but I think walnuts would be a fine substitution.
Serving suggestions
  1. This is enough pesto for 1 1/2 pounds pasta or spiralized vegetables. Add the pesto to the steaming hot pasta or veggies.
  2. It's also fantastic on salmon, shrimp, chicken, pork, or steak. Basically anything. Also great mixed with ground meat for some easy meatballs. Add 1/4 cup pesto per 1 pound of meat.
  3. Mix it with a little mayo to create, you guessed it, pesto mayo!
  4. Add equal parts butter or ghee to pesto and refrigerate to create a pesto butter for a perfectly seared steak.
Adapted from The New York Times Essential Cookbook
Adapted from The New York Times Essential Cookbook
Ashley Pardo



Leave a Reply

  1. Santiago Pardo says:

    Hey sweetheart I love Pesto, and your mom makes a really good one.
    As a matter of fact, the three of us (your Mom,Andrea,Myself,) had it for dinner with Buccattini, which I made(boiled).
    It was excellent.
    We will try your recipe next time, and I am sure it will be delicious, keep it up.

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