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Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke Photo by: Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke


We reduced the amount of oil, pine nuts, cheese, and butter usually found in a classic pesto, cutting 28 grams of fat per serving without losing any flavor. Avoid packing the basil leaves when you measure them so you won't use too much.

Cooking Light OCTOBER 2001

  • Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup pasta)


  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Romano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups uncooked penne (about 8 ounces)


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor; process until finely minced. Place in a large bowl. Stir in cheeses and butter until blended.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3 tablespoons cooking liquid. Add pasta and reserved cooking liquid to pesto, tossing to coat.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 390
  • Calories from fat: 39%
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated fat: 5.4g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 6.5g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.1g
  • Protein: 14.5g
  • Carbohydrate: 45.3g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Cholesterol: 18mg
  • Iron: 4mg
  • Sodium: 352mg
  • Calcium: 281mg

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Pesto recipe