Photo by: Photo: Dan Goldberg; Styling: Dan Becker

Classic Basil Pesto

This recipe, originally published (in narrative form) in a 1959 issue of Sunset, was one of the first pesto recipes in the United States. Catering to modern tastes, we've reduced the 3/4 cup oil in the original to just more than 1/4 cup. The flavors remain true in this Italian dish.

  • Yield: Makes 1/3 cup


  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 4 none large or 6 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup shredded romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


Put basil in a mortar with garlic, romano cheese, pine nuts, parsley, and salt. Pound until smooth, then add olive oil and mix until smooth. Or, whirl all ingredients in a blender.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per tbsp.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 76none
  • Calories from fat: 78%
  • Protein: 3.1g
  • Fat: 6.5g
  • Saturated fat: 1.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 2.3g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Sodium: 278mg
  • Cholesterol: 5.2mg

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Classic Basil Pesto Recipe