Making Basil Pesto Sauce The Nuttiest Way

Classic Italian Pesto Sauce Classic Italian Pesto Sauce 3

I fell in love with the classic Italian pesto sauce seven years ago, very appropriately so in the classical Italian city of Rome, celebrating Christmas day amidst the cold season of winter. Both of us decided to get a bottle of basil pesto sauce to go with our microwaved spaghetti and contented ourselves with a simple bowl of Italian pasta to celebrate the festive season in our little room at the Color Hotel. Wow… it tasted amazing. There and then, I fell head over heels with this sauce.

Here I am, seven years later, determined to make my very own basil pesto sauce. Since the sauce is meant to be added as an all-in-one condiment to flavour the plain pasta, I decided to be a little bit more adventurous with the ingredients. Besides making the classic basil pesto sauce which traditionally uses pine nuts, I have also created another version using pistachio nuts to obtain a slightly nuttier taste of the sauce. Here they go:


  • Pistachio nuts (or pine nuts): 1 cup
  • Basil leaves: 2 cups
  • Grated parmesan cheese: 1/2 cup
  • Garlic: 1 clove
  • Lemon juice: 1/2 of 1 small lemon
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Ground blackpepper: 1/2 tsp
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 1 cup


  1. Toast the nuts at 120 degrees Celsius for 12 min.
  2. Blend the nuts briefly till they become chunky bits.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients except the oil. Pulse them together till a grainy texture forms.
  4. Add olive oil gradually through the feed tube of the blender while pulsing to mix it in.
  5. Stir 2 tbsp sauce into pasta to serve.

Classic Italian Pesto Sauce 2


  • Do not hesitate to add in more than enough salt and oil; not only does this help to preserve the sauce for a much longer time, it also saves time and effort when cooking pasta as additional condiments are not required to flavour the dish.
  • Pulsing the mixture in the blender (instead of full force blending) helps to keep the grainy texture of the nuts intact which in turn enhances the texture of the sauce in the pasta. If you have time, you could pound them with a pestle and mortar too.


  • The photos here show two different flavours of the sauce: the lighter one is made from pine nuts (i.e. original classic flavour) and the darker one from pistachio nuts.
  • Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks if not consuming.

2 small bottles

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