Spaghetti with Homemade Basil Pesto

Homemade pesto is a quick, simple and flavoursome pasta sauce, and is so much nice than the shop-bought stuff! It doesn’t have that astringency and bitterness you get from pesto that’s stuck in jars for months on end, plus you can adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit your taste. The combination of basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil is just heavenly, and is known as Pesto alla Genovese. Apart from boiling the pasta, there’s no cooking involved, so it can be made in 10 minutes from start to finish – great for a quick lunch or dinner.

Ingredients (for 1) :

– large handful of fresh basil leaves
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 15 g grated parmesan
– small handful of toasted pine nuts (toast in a frying pan over a low heat until golden)
– 1 small garlic clove
– sea salt and black pepper
– squeeze of lemon juice
– 100 g spaghetti



  1. Fill a medium saucepan with a kettle full of water and bring to a rolling boil, then add the spaghetti. Push it down into the water as it softens then leave to boil for 9-10 minutes (1 minute less than the packet instructions), stirring occasionally.
  2. Place the basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a pestle and mortar, then bash it all together. The consistency should be a thick sauce but not completely smooth – it’s okay to have lumps and bits of pine nut in there. Season with plenty of sea salt and black pepper. TIP: you can use a food processor or hand blender instead of a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have any of these, a rolling pin and metal mixing bowl will do the same job!
  3. Taste your pesto here, and adjust it to your taste.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, briefly drain through a colander and quickly tip back into the pan so that the pasta is still a bit wet and coated with the starchy cooking water.
  5. Add the pesto, mix together and serve!


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