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Homemade Basil Pesto Using a Mortar and Pestle

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How to make homemade basil pesto using a mortar and pestle.

Ever since Honey Bee had his major health scare, our family has made a lot of changes in our lives. Each of us were so highly impacted that it honed in what is truly important in life. Slowing down the daily grind, nurturing important relationships, making deep connections with family and friends and improving our own health. I was so inspired by the Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat, that I shared with you before. Our family has decided to do bi-monthly Sunday Suppers. This allows us to spend time together, as well as cook a meal together. Recently I hosted our fist Sunday Supper. Part of our meal was homemade basil pesto using a mortar and pestle.

The parameters of the Sunday Suppers are loose. Basically every other month I will host in my home, or Jenn will host in hers.Here’s how we’re doing it:

  • The host creates the menu.
  • It should be something we’ve never made before.
  • Try to make everything from scratch – no pre-packaged foods.
  • All four of us are hands-on and participating in the making and the cooking.

My menu creation was all Italian. We made homemade basil pesto, focaccia (I’ll share the recipe next week), freshly made pasta, meatballs and Italian sausage in marinara sauce, antipasto salad and Italian cream cake for dessert. 

Full disclosure – we tried to make homemade mozzarella but it was an epic fail LOL. We will try again later.

This marble mortar and pestle was just $6.00 at HomeGoods.

Use the freshest ingredients that you can afford. It definitely makes a difference in the taste of the end result.


Admittedly, this recipe is much easier to do in a food processor – and you can certainly make it that way. But, we wanted to make it the authentic Italian way – and to us it tastes better and is way creamier.

Homemade Basil Pesto

Homemade Basil Pesto

Delicious and vibrant when made with fresh ingredients.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste


  1. Use a mortar and pestle to pound and grind the pine nuts, 1/8 tsp.sea salt and garlic (no distinct pieces should be visible) to a smooth paste.
  2. Add basil to pine nuts along with 1/8 tsp. of salt, which will help break down the leaves. Continue pounding and grinding until the basil breaks down completely (if your mortar is small, pound the basil in batches), about 7 minutes.
  3. Once the nuts and basil combine into a thick green paste, stir in Parmesan, pecorino, and oil.
  4. Taste and adjust salt as needed.


  • If the basil leaves are large, cut them down in size a bit.  

I was fortunate to find the pine nuts at an Italian market while on vacation in Florida.

The organic basil came from our local farm market and was relatively inexpensive.

We used the basil pesto on our homemade focaccia bread. This is also scrumptious on cooked pasta!

All of the fresh ingredients, particularly the basil and garlic, make the pesto especially flavorful.

Needless to say, our entire meal was delicious. More importantly, we enjoyed spending time together creating fabulous dishes. I highly encourage you to try cooking with your own family! Memories in the making 🙂 

Don’t forget to Pin this to your favorite Pinterest Board!


  1. Love all the components of your “Sunday Suppers.” From the fresh, “handmade by all” dishes to the deliberate family time spent together, it’s such a simple but amazing idea. Time well spent!

  2. After having tried multiple recipes of yours I know already this is going to be a sure thing so I can’t wait to try it. I love it that you guys are slowing down and savoring your time with each other. It’s so important! We continue to keep you guys in our prayers, hugs, CoCo

  3. After having made several of your recipes, I know this is going to be a sure thing already. Thanks so much for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it. So excited you guys are getting together to savor each others company. We continue to keep all of you in our prayers, hugs, CoCo

  4. Hi Vicki and Jennifer,

    I never tried it before. My family is pure Vagiterian. Definitely going to try! I think, my family would love it:)

  5. Ella Watson says:

    Hi Jenn and Vicki,

    Great Recipe. It’s looking so delicious that I couldn’t resist trying it myself. My husband loves the vegan diet. Hope it will be a great addition to his meal.

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