Pesto Recipe – Bring vacation to the dinner table

Bring vacation to your dinner table by adding the taste of the Italian Riviera through this pesto recipe and other suggested uses for the versatile sauce with simple pesto ingredients.

August 17, 2020

Pesto ingredients on a cutting board

Taste of the Italian Riviera

Do you have the travel bug but canceled or postponed your trip this summer? Bring vacation to your dinner table by adding the taste of the Italian Riviera through this pesto recipe. This post provides a pesto recipe and other suggestions to use this versatile sauce and bring the taste of Italy to your summer meals.

This pesto recipe can be used in many ways

  • Sauce on pasta – recipe below
  • Make extra pesto and place in ice cube tray and freeze for many uses
  • One tablespoon to salad dressing for a special kick
  • Add pesto to mayonnaise to create the best BLT sandwich spread
  • Spread on sliced tomatoes or bread
  • Add to cooked spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for a flavorful side dish
  • Add to grilled vegetables – mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, peppers


According to Merriam-Webster, pesto comes from the word pestare, to pound. It is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle and thus the name, but I prefer this pesto recipe that conveniently uses a food processor.

Making pesto in a food processor
Pesto made in a food processor

Pesto’s Regional Origin

Pesto comes from the region of Liguria in northwest Italy, which is often called the “Italian Riviera”. But above all, this region is famous for pesto and Cinque Terre; five, quaint villages along the coast: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Visitors can hike the Sentiero Azzurro trail and therefore experience each town and the sweeping sea vistas. The restaurants are famous for local, fresh seafood and pesto dishes.

Cinque Terre

Years ago, we began the six-mile hike. The trail winds through the beautiful green terraces and breathtaking sea views. We stopped for lunch in the third village and enjoyed pesto dishes and the local wine. Unfortunately, we decided it was time for a siesta rather than completing the hike. We returned by train to the hotel. However, I now have a reason to visit the famous region again to complete the hike and enjoy the wonderful food of Cinque Terre. If you are interested in traveling to the area, I recommend Rick Steves’ website.

I digressed with my travel memories. Let’s get back to the recipe. This easy pesto recipe sauce contains a mere six ingredients:

  1. garlic
  2. salt
  3. extra virgin olive oil
  4. fresh basil leaves
  5. pine nuts
  6. Parmesan-Reggiano
Pesto ingredients on a cutting board
Pesto ingredients are simple

It also freezes well.

Secret Tip

Reserve one cup of the salted pasta water just before draining. This helps evenly spread the rich sauce throughout the pasta without diluting the flavor.

Tools needed to make pesto

  • Food Processor
  • Salad Spinner

If you can’t travel this summer, bring the tastes of your favorite destinations to the dinner table through recipes from the region.

Love to hear from you

What is your favorite way to use pesto? Please share them in the comments below!  If you have your own tips on optimizing the kitchen, please share them in the comments below!

Supper Sanity is a simple system that offers shortcuts in the kitchen for meal planning, grocery shopping, and recipe organization. Simplify daily decisions so you can tackle more meaningful interests.


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Pesto on rotini pasta in a dish

Pesto Recipe- Bring vacation to the dinner table

  • Author: Karen
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Simple ingredients bring this classic Italian sauce to life. Use fresh basil, extra virgin olive, and freshly grated Parmigiano–Reggiano (cheese from the Italian province of Parma).


Units Scale

Pesto Sauce

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, stems removed and rinsed in a salad spinner
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts + 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan-Reggiano, grated


  • 1 16oz box pasta -linguine, spaghetti, or rotini
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup hot pasta water

Garnish, optional

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, roasted


  1. Pasta: Make according to the recipe on the box but be sure to add 2 tablespoons salt to the water—reserve one cup of the salted pasta water just before straining in a colander.
  2. Pesto: In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, salt, and oil. Process the ingredients until they are smooth.
  3. Add the basil and pine nuts to the mixture, and blend until smooth. Use a spatula to include the ingredients that stick to the sides.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  5. Garnish: Heat a small skillet or cast-iron pan over medium heat. Place 2 tablespoons of pine nuts in the heated pan and roast until golden brown, stirring often.
  6. Pasta: Scoop one cup of pasta water from the pan before straining. Drain pasta and place back in the pan with ½ cup of the pasta water.
  7. Add pesto to the pasta and mix using reserved pasta water if needed.
  8. Serve on a plate and garnish with toasted pine nuts.


Traditional and gluten-free pasta works well

Freezes well

Be sure to hold back one cup of hot, salted pasta water before draining

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: basil, pesto recipe, Italian sauce, Cinque Terre dish

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