I met Stephanie in Grand Rapids two years ago, a delightful student at Calvin College. Since then, Stephanie came to work as an RA at Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany.

Julie and Stephanie came to visit from Black Forest Academy

In December she wrote to ask if she could come visit us with a friend, Julie, over her Christmas break. And so last week, we enjoyed several days together, sightseeing in the Torino area and cooking in my kitchen.

The evening they arrived, I offered to have them choose a menu from my cookbooks and we would make the meal together. They were delighted! After settling on a menu together, we headed off the next morning to Porta Palazzo, the largest outdoor market in Europe. The following evening, we made homemade pasta and pesto together, along with fresh bread, fennel salad, baked perch and Hot Fudge Pudding Cake. Larry took photos so you could enjoy the process…and hopefully try it yourself. In this post, I’ll show you have to make fresh basil pesto (recipe at the end of this blog) and in my next post we’ll show you how to make fresh pasta.

Here’s what you need for Fresh Basil Pesto…fresh basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and pine nuts or walnuts…

Pesto is one of my favorite Italian foods! If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a delightful, vibrant sauce used to coat pasta–and there’s nothing quite like enjoying it on fresh pasta!

Pesto, which originated in Genoa, Italy, comes from the Italian word pestare that means to pound or to bruise. In Rhode Island I made quantities of pesto in September, when my basil plant in the garden was huge. I would freeze it in ice cube trays, and then popped them into a plastic bag. The wonderful aroma of crushed, fresh basil in the middle of winter is enough to bring back memories of a warm and pleasant summer day! So we purchased some fresh basil for our pesto, and removed all the leaves from the stems.

We lightly pressed the leaves into a measuring cup and gave them a quick wash in the salad spinner. Next, we used a microplane zester to grate some fresh Parmesan…though you can use the stuff in the green can if you prefer…

Many recipes for pesto call for pine nuts–but given the high cost of them, I’m happy to tell you that walnut taste exactly the same in pesto. Having harvested and shelled a few pine nuts last year, I understand why they’re so costly–but just can’t bring myself to spend the money on them in a recipe like this, where they’re all ground up and the flavor is so similar to walnuts. But…I didn’t even have any shelled walnuts in the house…so we ended up shelling the 1/4 C. necessary for the pesto:

Now, with everything ready, we put it all in the food processor. While originally pesto was made using a mortar and pestle, I’ve found it adequate to use a food processor. Instead of bruising the basil, it purees it, but the end product is so similar that most of you probably don’t want to spend $99 at Williams Sonoma to buy a marble set like this:

So pull out your food processor and toss in your ingredients:

The fresh basil leaves…

The grated Parmesan cheese…

The walnuts… or pine nuts if you prefer…

And that nearly-non-negotiable in every Italian recipe–garlic.

We processed everything together:

Isn’t that a beautiful color of green? You can almost smell the basil, can’t you? Next, I removed the feed-tube from the processor and we drizzled in a half cup of olive oil.

And here’s the finished product, ready to coat our fresh pasta…but that’s another post.



Fresh Basil Pesto

Yield: Enough pesto for 4-6 servings of pasta

Fresh Basil Pesto


  • 1 1/2 C. fresh basil leaves (pack lightly in measuring cup--or 3-4 handfuls)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C. (50 g) pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3/4 C. (60 g) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. (125 ml) olive oil pinch of salt


  1. Place basil, garlic, nuts, and cheese in food processor and process until puréed.
  2. Continue processing as you pour the olive oil through the feed tube. Process until the consistency of creamed butter.
  3. Stir into warm pasta, about 2 T. per serving. Or, cover and refrigerate for a few days. You can also freeze it for use later.

Freezing Pesto

Before moving to Italy where I am limited to a plant of basil on my balcony, I grew large basil plants in my garden. In the fall, before the first frost, I picked all the leaves off and made up as many batches of pesto as I could. I froze the pesto in ice cube trays; when frozen, I put all the cubes in a zip-top bag and just took out however much pesto I needed for a meal (approximately 1 cube per serving). How delightful to smell fresh basil in the dead of winter!

The Basil Pesto recipe is on page 79 of O Taste & See Some More!


  1. 9-20-2014

    Highly descriptive blog, I loved that bit. Will there be a part 2?

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