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Pesto for Easy Pasta, Soup, Bread, and Salad Recipes

Updated on August 9, 2012

Traditional Basil Pesto


Pesto Recipe Variations

Pesto is everywhere these days! You can buy all kinds of different types off your supermarket shelves, in classy restaurants, and unfortunately there are those pasta microwave meals.

Classic pesto consists of Basil, Olive Oil, Parmesan, Garlic and Pine Nuts; pounded with a Pestle and Mortar into a fine paste. You can use a blender or like me chop everything finely by hand!

Classic and traditional Italian at it's best! There is so much more you can do with these versatile ingredients than just stir them into some pasta and there are many, many improvisations to be explored...

Fresh Basil
Parsley, Corriander, Tarragon, Sorrell, Rocket, Chives... Or mix a few!
Olives, Sundried Tomatoes, Capers, Peppers, Chilli, Mushrooms...
Pine Nuts
Almonds, Walnuts (Delicious), Cashew Nuts, or you could miss out Pine Nuts completely!
Olive Oil
Wholegrain Mustard, Miso paste, Rapeseed Oil...
Peccorino is an excellent Cheap substitute but most cheeses will work, even finely grated Cheddar! If using blue or crumbly ensure the cheese is finely broken up!

Cheap Meals

Nearly all of the classic ingredients are cheap, apart from Pine Nuts which can be very costly for just a small amount. To me however these are an optional ingredient. The Fresh herbs, Oil, Cheese (if you use the right types) and Garlic can all come to as little as £1.86 ($3.03) to serve 2 generously!

There is literally nothing stopping you from making Pesto! You can even store it in a jar in the fridge for a week or so for later use!

You can mix a good amount of pesto with hot pasta, you can cut diagonal grooves into a baguette and slather in the pesto before baking for 10 minutes to make a variation on classic Garlic Bread, you can put a dollop into your soup, stir it into sauces for some added freshness, add to your meat when mixing meatballs, use as a garnish for burgers or steak, add some white wine or cider vinegar in a jar and shake for a salad dressing... this list is endless!

Pesto Pasta (Macaroni)...


Matts Sundried Tomato Pesto Recipe

This really is a Cheap, Healthy and quick to make meal. Above all it is simply delicious!

Cook Time

Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: Serves 2

Ingredients (Prices are based on amount used and not total unit price)

  • 25g Fresh Basil Leaves, £0.50p
  • 1 Clove Garlic, £0.04p
  • 3 Sundried Tomatoes, £0.010p
  • 30g Parmesan (or Peccorino), £0.40p
  • 200g Macaroni, £0.30p
  • Pinch Salt and Pepper, £0.01p
  • 40ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, £0.15p

Please rate once you have tried!

4.5 stars from 2 ratings of Sundried Tomato Pesto Recupe

Top tip...

Add a tsp of Olive Oil into your pasta water and stir after the pasta has gone in. This stops the pasta sticking together!


Step by step...

  1. Heat some water in a pan, adding the dried Macaroni when the water begins to boil. Remember the proverb - Pasta water should be saltier than the Mediterranean. Depending on how you like your pasta you should cook for 9 minutes for al dente and 12 minutes for well done.
  2. While the pasta is on, make your pesto. First make sure that you pull all of the leaves off the basil, putting the stalks to one side. (Since there is little or no cooking involved the stalks will be too tough and stringy in the final sauce)
  3. Place your 3 Sundried Tomatoes on top of your Basil and with a sharp knife start chopping very finely. This could take up to 3 or 4 Minutes.
  4. Grate the entire Garlic clove as finely as possible and add to the chopped mix raw.
  5. Once chopped and mixed pile your ingredients into a small bowl and add all of the Oil, followed by Salt and Pepper to taste (I use two good pinches of each).
  6. Now mix in the Parmesan in 3 batches, each time stir vigorously with a fork until it is all mixed together. Add more Olive Oil if it looks at all dry.
  7. Once ready, drain your pasta and mix thoroughly with all of the pesto. Add a drizzle more of Olive oil and another good sprinkling of Parmesan to serve. (Try garnishing with a few basil leaves, this is purely aesthetic).

Enjoy your Sundried Tomato Pesto!

Notice how I didn't use those expensive nuts!? That is how versatile the recipe is, mix and match your own and see how easy it is to make something unique and delicious. There literally are hundreds of potential variations and uses!

The Cheese, Olive Oil and tomato juices will melt and mingle with the heat of the pasta when put together to create a rich, spicy and at the same time light and Moorish Sauce. The basil and Garlic add a wonderful streak of aromatic freshness to it all.

You really can use this for a quick dinner or impress a date with this recipe, it is simple, versatile and very impressive for those who don't know how easy it is!

You can make the Pesto a week before and really cut down on the cooking time if you like. Just spoon into an old jam jar and ensure the pesto is fully covered in olive oil, you will need to top it up in the jar.

Let me know what you get up to with your pesto!


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Delicious looking recipe.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      I absolutely adore pesto so I really appreciate all the variations you offer here.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      There is just something about pesto that brings out the real flavor of a dish. I have never made the home made versions, but yours is worth a try. I love sun dried tomatoes also and will enjoy this extra bonus as well. Very well done and voted up!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow I love sundried tomatoe pesto.. and I love basil.. so good. I will put this on my favorites..

      great hub


    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      I know. We only usually get them in 100g or 200g bags the 100g bags are usually over £3.00.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Wow that isn't even close! I think thats the equivalent of about $18 USD

    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      They are more expensive here because they are always exported! About £12.00 per pound I would guess.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      For me, absolutely. It also is about texture. Although while several of my recipes have store-bought ingredients I almost always make everything from scratch. I even make my own ricotta and mozzarella cheeses for my lasagnas. So I might just be picky. Now that I think about it though I wonder if they are more expensive in your country compared to mine. I find them in a bulk section of a healthfood store where I live and they're a lot cheaper than other places. About $6 a pound.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      It's better with pine nuts, no doubt, but does the price outweigh the difference? Not sure :/

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Great hub on pesto! I disagree with you about the pine nuts... I could never make my family pesto recipe without them (I'm Italian btw)

    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      Jealous of you for that Anne. The older they are the more the oil works its way into the mortar and the more taste you get, or so I hear anyway!

    • Anne Pettit profile image

      Anne Pettit 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks! I can even use my grandmothers mortar and pestle.

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      I just love pesto! Thanks for the recipe, which I shall try out. I also don't use expensive pine nuts in my basil pesto recipe. I substite with blanched almonds (much cheaper) and just as good.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      LaThing, you are always too kind about my hubs.

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Very nice hub, well laid out and written. I agree with Gmwilliams, you should write a book! Voting up and useful.

    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      Gmwilliams, I really appreciate your comments. Your talent is for making people feel good about themselves! :)

      urmilashukla23, thanks for your comment. Speak soon.

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 5 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Look so delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Voted up!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To Matt: This presentation is great and fantabulous. You should have your own cooking show on television. You have that gift. Also, you should write a cookbook, you are THAT talented! You are making want to cook spaghetti with green pesto and garlic sauce.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      I love pesto. It can make a boring meal awesome in just a few easy steps. I love to put it on chicken and serve with pasta. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Matthew Kirk profile image

      Matthew Kirk 5 years ago from Liverpool

      Thanks Angie, I had a pesto week once when I was student haha! Turned out much cheaper and healthier than pot noodles and frozen curry! Glad you enjoyed :)

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Oooh, this does sound good, Matthew ...

      That it is so fresh and healthy is brilliant, being inexpensive as well is just a bonus.

      Well done you!