An Easy Twist on Basil Pesto (Recipe)

I’ve been searching for the perfect basil pesto recipe for years to no avail. Which is funny, because, well, there aren’t a whole lot of variations out there. Almost all recipes call for the same 5 or 6 ingredients, all blended together in a food processor. This one, though, from celebrated Italian cooking expert Marcella Hazan, is a little different. It calls for two kinds of hard Italian cheese, not one, and you mix them in, along with butter, after you take the mixture out of the food processor.

I hit the jackpot with this recipe — the stuff is a-MAZ-ing! Though digging around on the web produced somewhat inconsistent results, it is also my understanding that this is the way pesto is made in Genoa, where the stuff originated. Sans food processors, of course — I’ll explore pestos made with a mortar and pestle and a mezzaluna later this week!

If you’d like to freeze the pesto, skip the butter and cheese, and cover with a layer of oil. When you’d like to use it, stir in the butter and cheese after it’s thawed completely.

Marcella Hazan’s Basil Pesto


  • 2 Cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/2 Cup Extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/3 Cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grate pecorino romano
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

1. Wash basil in cold water. Pat with paper towels until it’s completely dry.
2. Add the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic and a pinch of salt to the food processor. Blend until the mixture is smooth, creamy, and uniform in consistency.
3. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add the parmesan and roman, and stir well to combine. Add in butter and stir until well blended.

Recipe Credit: Marcella Hazan

More Recipes:
Basil & Summer Squash Soup
Refreshing Summer Squash Salad


Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn2 years ago

pesto is the bomb!

Aino M.
.4 years ago


LJ Rogers
LJ Rogers4 years ago

My mother was Northern Italian. She used a mortar and pestle and ground the basil with garlic, and course salt, adding the olive oil little by little. The food processor "heats" the basil and it loses some of it's taste. She added the cheese after the pulverizing, right on the pasta. We ate the pasta cold with the dressing... like a salad.

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey4 years ago

The most amazing rendition of the classic pesto is one I saw in a newspaper where it substituted spinach for the basil and walnuts for the pinenuts. It is absolutely delicious.

GGma Sheila
GGmaSAway D4 years ago

Can't wait to try this one. Thank you.

Carmen S.
Carmen S4 years ago

Wow, thanks for sharing this, love pesto and can't wait to try this.

Anti Idol
Anti Idol4 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G4 years ago


Manuela C.
Manuela C4 years ago


Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago