Pesto with Penne

Pesto (Serves 6)

Basil pesto for me is a recipe that screams warm weather.  I always make this in a large amount and have it on hand in my refrigerator.  I store the extra in an airtight container!! It will last for weeks.  

I find pesto to be so versatile.  You can put it on pasta, sandwiches and my son and I love it on eggs too.  You can even dip some crusty bread in it with some good extra virgin olive oil for a snack.

Recipe note….traditionally, pesto is made with raw garlic.  I don’t like raw garlic.  It can give you bad breath and indigestion.  I find that cooking it not only makes the sauce better but alleviates any of these issues. 

Also, I add a little bit of lemon juice to my pesto recipe and I just feel like it gives it a nice tang and a bit of extra freshness.  

Lastly, this recipe will make more pesto than is called for when making it with pasta.  Reserve the rest of the pesto for sandwiches, eggs, salads etc. 


1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (high quality is a must)

15 Whole Garlic Cloves 

5 Cups of Basil Leaves (About 5 oz.), Just Leaves 

⅓ Cup Pignoli Nuts

1 Lemon Juiced (about 3 tbsp.)

½ Tsp. Salt

¼ Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano

1 ½  lbs. Pasta – I used penne


On the stove heat ½ cup olive oil and add in the garlic.  Cook on a low flame until the garlic is fork tender and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Heat a small fry pan, add the pignoli nuts and lighty toast until golden brown.  

Put the basil, pignoli nuts, garlic and oil, remaining ½ cup of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes in a food processor.  Blend well.  Then add in your Pecorino and blend again.

Boil heavily salted water.  Add your pasta.  Before the pasta is done remove at least two cups of the pasta water and reserve.

Drain the pasta. In the pasta pot put 1 ½ cups of the water and 1 ½ cups of the pesto and mix.  Add in the pasta and combine well.  If you feel that the sauce needs to be looser, add in more water.  Use your judgment.  Finish this dish with a drizzle of more olive oil and serve.

Back to blog