Summer Garden Pesto

When gardens are overflowing with produce, we need ideas for using them up. Pesto is a versatile sauce that is easy to freeze for later use. Make now, use later. Traditionally it’s made with basil, but you can substitute any flavorful green — spinach, mustard greens, I’ve even seen a recipe for dandelion greens! Whatever you sub in for the basil will bring its own flavor to the sauce,  so you may want to use them differently.

Other than that, the basic recipe will be the same. The recipe below will give you about 3-4 C of Pesto, which can be kept in the fridge for a week, or put in the freezer. I like to use Stashers reusable ziplock bags for this purpose; a lot of folks use an ice cube tray so you can take out small amounts without defrosting the whole thing. (Suggestion: freeze in the ice cube tray first, then put your pesto cubes in a freezer-proof bag for longer-term storage.)

This recipe is easily doubled or halved.



4 C (packed) Fresh Basil or other greens, or a combination

3-6 cloves  Garlic (you can roast the garlic if you don’t like it raw)

1 C Parmesan (if you’re vegan – you can use nutritional yeast instead!)

¾ – 1 C Pine Nuts or Chopped Walnuts (you can also use cashews, pistachios or almonds)

¼ teasp Salt (if you’re going low-sodium, replace with a little lemon juice or just leave it out)

¼ teasp Black Pepper

1 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Choose a good quality oil for best flavor!)


In the bowl of your *food processor, place half of the basil, the garlic, cheese, nuts, salt, and pepper.

Pulse (don’t blend!) for a couple of minutes or until the ingredients are fairly smooth. (You can keep it chunky if you prefer that texture.)

Add in the rest of the green and pulse 2 or 3 times.

Slowly pour in the olive oil while the processor is running and turn it off as soon as the last drop of oil goes in. Taste and gently stir in more salt or pepper if needed. 

The flavor of the pesto will intensify as it sits, so don’t overdo it if you’re using raw garlic. (This advice is coming from a garlic lover!)

Pair this with this homemade gnocchi recipe from The Gentleman Farmer in Maine and it’s *chef’s kiss*.

Mortar and Pestle with Pesto

* A lot of folks like making smaller batches of pesto with a mortar and pestle. Give it a try and see what you think!