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  • Writer's pictureMatt Suprunowicz

How to Make Basil Pesto

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Make this multi-functional sauce to put on your next salad or pasta dish!


This Lesson Plan is part the Nutrition Module of SustainEd Farms' virtual programming.

Background: Making Basil Pesto

Making your own basil pesto at home will undoubtedly taste better than any pesto sauce you can buy at the local grocery store. If you happen to have freshly picked basil -- grown at home, perhaps -- you will assuredly notice this difference. Aside from being subtly delicious (a slightly spicy, light, and salty delight!) in so many ways, making pesto is super simple and quick to do, and can be made with several substitutions for ingredients.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to...

  • Make their own basil pesto at home

  • Use a blender safely

  • Identify patterns in flavor pairings

Academic Vocabulary

basil /ˈbāzəl/ noun. - native to Asia, an herb in the mint family


1. Gather your materials. You will need the following supplies:

A blender · fresh basil (~2 cups) · pine nuts and/or walnuts, pecans, almonds (~½ cup) · garlic (3-4 cloves) · parmesan cheese or romano cheese or asiago cheese (~½ cup) · lemon juice (~ 1 tablespoon or to taste) · olive oil or vegetable oil (~⅓ cup) · water (~⅓ cup) · pepper (to taste) · salt (to taste)

2. Watch the following Youtube video to see a demonstration of how to make basil pesto. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.

3. Place all items into your blender, “smushing” the ingredients in order to make them fit, if necessary. The particular order does not matter since everything will be blended together. However, your blender might function better if the liquid components are closer to the blender blades.

4. Blend the items in your blender. If you are using an immersion blender, or any other open-bladed blender, be sure that your extremities are clear of the blades. If your mixture does not blend thoroughly, remove the blade and stir your mixture with a spoon, and add small amounts of water or oil (1-2 tablespoons) until it is able to blend smoothly.

5. Enjoy your pesto! While many people like to use pesto on a salad, bread, or pasta dish, pesto is also a wonderful topping on many meats and vegetables! Try it on top of a cooked salmon filet, as a dipping sauce for your carrots or broccoli, or on top of roasted cauliflower and carrots. The possibilities for pesto are endless.

Additional Resources:

Download the PDF version of this lesson plan:

How to Make Basil Pesto
Download PDF • 1.16MB

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