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Chunky Garlic Basil Pesto

Bren Herrera Basil Pesto Jar

I swear by garlic. I live by garlic. I breath for garlic. Therefore, I am garlic. Well, sort of. At least I don’t reek of it. But, man o man, or girl o girl, is it one of my top three favorite foods. Ever. After all, it’s 1/3 of our Cuban holy trinity of cooking. El sofrito. Get it know it if you haven’t. In the meantime, while I continue to introduce my parents to very non-Cuban comidas, I have to be strategic in preparing  new things for them. Basil pesto for instance was a relatively doable swallow because individually, they’re very familiar with the ingredients: basil, olive oil, garlic, tons of garlic, salt, cheese, and nuts. And because combined, these simple, yet superbly complex ingredients make a divine bowl (or jar) of green goodness.

There’s not much for me to share with you about basil pesto another than it just being an amazing spread to add to a lot of varying foods. And today, as I looked out my working window, settling on the idea that the dullness of the current sky is soon to turn really green, though I really would love to enjoy another 6 or so weeks of winter (yes, I know a lot of you are in the dissenting party), I thought of all the green foods about to harvest.

I relish in the beauty and stillness of winter and haven’t experienced enough of this year. A few more weeks would allow me to get in all those cute outfits (this is a major priority, you know!) I bought and  make snow angels. But, alas, spring’s on its way and we have to make way for newness, which is a good thing. Renewal of our soul, mind, and spirit. Even the birds need some new plush cushion to perch themselves on after three brutal months of dry cold.

Our palates are also begging for new flavors and textures. I’m almost there. But, gosh, the looks of the bare trees offer something so enigmatic. I digress, tho.

Branches outside house window

With our palates looking for new experiences, spring and summer greens will top our list of ingredients to keep stocked up. Basil,  another one of my favorite foods, is making its presence in farmers’ markets in great abundance. And I can’t get enough of it. My mom had literally just picked up a small pack for something else I was making this past weekend, and it occurred to me to let her have a try at pesto. She loves sandwiches, my dad loves pasta, and my sister loves chicken! A threesome this sauce could marry so easily.

Garlic Basil Pesto

Pesto is probably one of the easiest things to make. The flavors are robust without overpowering your main meal source. It’s simply a beautiful addition to give your dish a heightened level of depth and prettiness. I’ve made a variety of different styles, but I opted for this chunkier version to use on pasta dishes. Thinner sauces are good for other foods, but a chunky one gives life to others.

Like this gourmet steak sandwich I made ions ago.

This does it all. And the more ajo, the better.

Bren's Basil Pesto Jar

While I relish in the few remaining days of winter, though I’m off to Mexico in the morning to bask in food, wine, and amazing summer weather, I invite you to try this. It’s chunky. It’s divine. It’s sexy. And it’s easy. Store it in mason jars for days keeping!


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  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and pat dry
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup romano cheese (parmesan is a good choice, too, but more traditional)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tsp. walnuts
  • 1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. raw sugar
  • kosher salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste


Add basil, garlic, pine and walnuts to a food processor. Pulse on high until everything is coarsely chopped, about 1 minute. Turn processor speed down and add cheese, salt, pepper and olive oil. Turn speed  back put to medium pulse until all ingredients are well-blended but not soupy or too smooth. Add additional olive oil to thin down to taste.

Transfer to severing bowl using rubber spatula. If storing, place in mason jars and refrigerate for up to 7 days.

* Chef’s notes: I also love Manchego cheese. It’s such a great option and pairs really lovely with the basil and nuts. Let me know in the comments if you try and like it. 

54 thoughts on “Chunky Garlic Basil Pesto

  1. Wow, the recipe is so simple. I have to try it! I can’t wait to have it as a spread on a steak sandwich. Yummy!!

  2. That would be a good hashtag #iamgarlic 😉
    I have made basil pesto but it’s been sooo long.. I truly love it. I used to mix it with parsely too. But Basil alone is probably better.

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