Sweet basil pesto recipe

This sweet basil pesto recipe is just a blend of the freshly-picked green herb, nuts and olive oil; and some grated hard cheese.

As you can guess from the title it is possible to make a pesto from many different herbs. This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever prepare; yet it is quite costly. Olive oil and Parmesan cheese are not cheap. On the shelf at your delicatessen the price may seem exorbitant; that's why you should blend it up yourself.

Basil pesto recipe


  • 180 fresh green basil leaves
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Half a dozen twists of black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 30 almonds
  • 3 cup olive oil
  • 150g grated hard cheese such as Parmesan

Go for it

  1. Blend the almonds in a coffee grinder.
  2. Grate the cheese.
  3. Whizz all the ingredients with a hand-blender, adding the oil slowly.
  4. Freeze in 3 small bottles.

That's a couple handfuls of basil leaves; I never bother counting them! Keep it simple.

There are a thousand variations of this basil pesto recipe. For example you could add half a peppadew or some other mild chili but not such that it would overpower the subtle flavour of the herb.

Make sure your sweet basil pesto in the bottle is covered with olive oil; it goes brown at the drop of a hat. It reacts very readily with the air; that's what makes the herb such a powerful anti-oxidant.

Quite often this basil pesto recipe is made with pine nuts; they too are expensive.

A sprig of purslane, a member of the portulaca family is rich in omega-3; it grows like a weed in many gardens. It is associated with better outcomes in heart failure patients[2]. Drop a few leaves into your pesto.

Purslane plant our garden


Kitchen utensils favouritesThe microplaner is a very useful, inexpensive utensil.

A hard cheese will damage your hand-blender if you don't grate it;  get yourself a microplaner if you want to make this sweet basil pesto recipe regularly.

How to grow basil

basil seedlings tiny

Set the very fine seeds in a small tray in spring; cover with a thin layer of soil. Keep them moist.

Set out the young seedlings when they have at least 4 leaves. Keep them moist until they are well established.

Toss a few leaves daily into your green salad for a different flavour. But to get the heady scent of a sweet basil pesto recipe you do need to make a little effort to prepare this wonderful condiment.

It will make the difference between the family eating the salad and turning up their noses in disgust.

How to harvest basil

Basil plant small

When the plant gets rather larger no longer pick individual leaves; instead pinch out a little branch. Then it will produce a lot more florets before going to flower.

A powerful anti-inflammatory

Inflammation today is the word. Our bodies are red and angry; and painful. Using seed oils high in omega 6 is one of the reasons. Another is because we dote on refined carbs; everything must be super-sweet and our food must slide smoothly down the throat with little or no chewing.

It means our food is very low in the phytonutrients and omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. This sweet basil pesto recipe is rich in eugenol and oleocanthal[1]. A spicy pepper and purslane would add capsaicin and omega-3.

Chew your food thoroughly; surprisingly it's one of the benefits of enjoying a salad daily. Researchers have found that eating food that has to be masticated means we are less likely to get dementia.

Thoroughly indoctrinating our children in the importance of whole foods is the responsibility of every parent. Amongst many other natural dishes that means this sweet basil pesto recipe with a colourful salad should regularly be on the cards.

“People are wasting money thinking there has to be a magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following the evidence-based practices of eating properly and exercising.”

- Journal of the American Medical Association

Sweet basil flowers

basil flowers

You want to delay your sweet basil from going to flower for as long as possible. Water regularly in dry weather and keep pinching them off when you see it happening. These plants will then go on bearing for months.

On the other hand it is one of the most bee-friendly plants; once the flowers do spring forth you will find the little pollinators very busy. Traces of the phytonutrients in sweet basil will be found in the honey.

The scent from the leaves is intoxicating; as you walk in your green garden, pick a few and crush them in your fingers. Now take in deep breaths; we can high with a little help from our friends.

As a beekeeper I sometimes think of planting acres of sweet basil; I'm sure there is a business to be made. The honey from a few hives planted in the centre of the field would be absolutely unique.

Feral swarm of bees hived

Every beekeeper has a few untidy empty hives lying around. This feral swarm arrived three weeks ago; they are already very busy collecting nectar from the sweet basil and other plants in our garden. The box has to be moved five kilometres away for a month before being brought back to the apiary.

There's a synergy of green living. Keeping bees means every flower in the garden will be pollinated; so there will be more beans, peas and avocados, for example. The traces of eugenol oil in natural unprocessed honey help with inflammation, actually lower blood glucose and help us lose weight[3].

The same cannot be said for commercial honey alas. Is it time to attend a beginners' day in beekeeping?

Recipe for tomato basil soup

Simply fry up an onion, three shoots of celery including the leaves and a finely-chopped carrot; this is the holy grail soup that forms the foundation of many nutritious and tasty dishes incidentally.

Toss in two very ripe large tomatoes and a couple cups of your favourite stock. After half an hour throw in a good handful of basil leaves; and simmer for another five minutes. Blend your soup if you like it smooth. Serve with a tablespoon of cold cream.

Add salt and black pepper to taste of course.

A chicken bone would add to the nutrition and flavour; unless you're a vegetarian!

Sweet basil pesto recipe

This sweet basil pesto recipe is so simple to make in your own green kitchen. The ingredients are quite expensive so you'll not find it is cheap in the deli.

There's no reason not to adapt the recipe however; there are alternatives to expensive pine-nuts and Parmesan. We often use pecans or almonds; and feta cheese.

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Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself and Mother Earth for future generations; and your family too, of course. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.

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  • Lifestyle and ideal body weight
  • What are ultra-processed foods?
  • Investing in long-term health
  • Diseases from plastic exposure
  • Intensive lifestyle management for obesity has limited value
  • A world largely devoid of Parkinson's Disease
  • The impact of friendly bacteria in the tum on the prevention of cancer
  • There's a hole in the bucket
  • Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs
  • Pull the sweet tooth
  • If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu
  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
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  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
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  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa