Lily's Pesto

My boyfriend used to talk about his American friends when we were in Germany, that was before I actually met them. He had a lot of stories, and because I am such a food addict, I remembered especially that he always praised Lily's Pesto (and Jamie and Steven's self-made Guacamole - but that's another story).

After meeting Lily, I noticed how passionate and creative she is about food. She is an amazing cook and it was time to try to re-create that amazing pesto. This recipe is based on her original recipe that she was so nice to share with me. I made just a few little changes. Be aware that you will have left-overs, but it is easy to freeze. I started preparing the pesto last summer after getting tons of fresh basil from the farm stands at sauvie island, but it took me a long time to post this because I wasn't happy with the first pictures I took. I had to wait till I used the frozen left-over pesto. It was as delicious as fresh :)


  • 4 cloves of garlic - choped
  • 1/2 - 3/4 lb romano cheese (or parmesan, asiago - anything hard and italian)
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4-5 handfuls of basil leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3-4 handfuls baby spinach
  • milk
  • salt to taste
  • Spagetthi
  • Optional: Garlic Bread, Side Salad, Parmesan to sprinkle


Add that time I did not yet have my fancy "Ninja" mixer. I knew that the one that I had was not strong enough to mix everything, so I processed the cheese and the basil/spinach mix separately.

1) Preparing the cheese base
I cut the cheese in small pieces to make it easier on my blender. Then I worked in two batches, I started with blending about half of the cheese with about 1/4 cup of oil. As soon as that was done, I added the rest of the cheese, another 1/4 cup of oil, garlic and pine nuts. I transferred the cheese mix into a bowl.

2) Preparing the basil base
Now,  I added the basil to the blender with 1/8 cup of oil to soak it a little. On Lily's suggestion, I added the rosemary to give it a bit of a spicy flavor. Loved it! After processing the basil, I added the spinach and a little bit of milk. The spinach does not add much flavor, but helps with the consistency. How much spinach and milk depends on your taste. Add more milk or spinach to either make it creamier or greener.

3) Mix everything together - create the pesto
I transferred the basil base to the bowl with the cheese mixture and mixed everything together. If it is not creamy enough, you can add some oil or milk. Also, I liked to add a little bit of salt.

Serve with some spagetthi or other pasta (e.g. Farfalle, Penne). Mix the warm pasta with the cold pesto till the pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle with some Parmesan. It also tastes really good with garlic bread or a small salad with a vinaigrette on the side.

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