Basil Almond Pesto

I love pesto. I love almonds. So I was thrilled when I found a recipe for Basil Almond Pesto which was listed with low calories. It was good, but I thought “it needed something”. So I tweaked it. I think I found the perfect combination. Even with adding calories, it’s quite YUMMY.

Let’s walk through the process…

As Pioneer Woman would say, “Here we have the cast of characters.” (that’s pepper on the left)


I cheat and use one measuring cup for both the 3 Tablespoons of water and 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  It’s rather nice how it separates so you can combine the two.

You need 2 Tablespoons of RAW unsalted almonds. If you have roasted unsalted almonds you’ll be able to skip a step (I’ll tell you where later).

2 Tablespoons of almonds is about 16 or as you can see about a shot glass (1 oz).

Next you need 1/4 Cup of shredded Parmesan cheese.

I use a Microplane grater to get my fluffy Parmesan cheese.

You need 2 Cups (packed) Fresh Basil and although the recipe calls for 1 garlic clove, this time I used 3 (it was strong — yummmm).

“We interrupt this blog with a very important message….” beep… beep… beep… (don’t you just hate it when your “programs” get interrupted?)

Before we move on, I want to share a tip… as you look at the above basil you see there are no “stems”. DO NOT THROW THEM OUT (or even compost them)!

Here they are…Cut the bottoms off at an angle as shown here…

The​n place the stems in a clear glass jar with water and place them in a window.  After a while, the stems will grow roots. (the stems from above are at the front center of this “bouquet”.)

As you can see, I have quite a lot of root growth. When the weather is warmer I will be planting the outside. YES, you can do this with the fresh basil you by in your grocery store’s produce section. (that’s from where all this came)

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog… (whew… aren’t you glad that didn’t take too long?)

If you DO have roasted almonds skip to the next step.

We’re going to “roast” these almonds – yes in the microwave. You can roast them in the oven, but it is going to take a lot longer.

Cook the almonds in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Mix them up and turn 1/4 turn. Repeat for another 30 seconds. Mix again and turn 1/4 turn again. Microwave for another 30 seconds. The bowl will get HOT. As will the almonds.  BE CAREFUL!

When they’re done using pot holders remove and put bowl on hot pad or trivet to cool.IMG_1261.JPG

I use 1-3 pinches (​about 1/16 of a teaspoon). This time I used 3 pinches.

Next 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. If you don’t like pepper, you can use less. Again, like the salt start with less and add more if you think it needs it.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor. I don’t have a “real” food processor. I use a hand (immersion) blend with attachments. It works quite well.

Start chopping/processing/pulverizing or whatever you want to call it. Here are some photos of it whirling around and chopping.

As you can see, the mixture reduces in size quite a bit. If we take a look inside, you’ll see all the little bits of basil, almonds and garlic. Oh and the smell… I LOVE THE SMELL OF FRESH BASIL!

Unfortunately, this isn’t chopped up enough. Keep going…


This looks right …

Now we turn the mixture into paste. If you have a “real” food processor, as you pulse add the oil and water slowly.

In my case, I have to add a bit and then pulse. Add some more and pulse… and so on.


This is where not having a “real” food processor is a pain. As you can see from this picture, the blades just make a circle and aren’t really chopping much anymore…

​So, I transfer everything to my small attachment. As you can see, I made a mess. Please ignore it…IMG_1286.JPG

N​ow I continued to pulse away

This is “almost there”. Taste it… Do you like it? Then you’re done. This tasted great, but I thought it needed to be a “darker green”…

So I added more basil! :)​ Be sure to push it down into the mixture. I’m sure this really didn’t make a difference, but this is what I did, so I thought I’d share. (the last time I made this recipe, I didn’t add any additional basil)

After pulsing and chopping a few more times… here is the end result…

I add a tablespoon to a bowl of hot pasta and …​

… mix it up and Voila! Bliss! Depending on how much salt you’re used to, you may need to salt your dish, but I am trying to keep the salt content low.

In closing, I have read that basil pesto will turn brown if oxygen gets to it. To prevent this, pour some olive oil over the top of your fresh basil and put in the refrigerator.


To get a printer friendly copy of the recipe, go here. Both the link and below list “1 pinch” of salt.

Basil Almond Pesto
Serving Size: 10 (1 serving is 1 tablespoon of pesto paste)
Yield: 2/3 Cup (10 Tablespoons)

2 tablespoons raw almonds
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoon water


1. In microwave-safe small bowl or cup, cook almonds in microwave on High 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned in center. Cool slightly. Be careful to not burn

2. In food processor, pulse almonds, basil, garlic, Parmesan, salt, and pepper until finely chopped.

3. As processor running, gradually poor in olive oil and water until blended into a paste.

Servings: approx 10 tablespoons

Amount Per Serving (1 tablespoon) (from MacGourmet Deluxe)
Calories: 58
Total Fat: 5.55g
Cholesterol: 1mg
Sodium: 103mg
Total Carbs: 0.63g
Dietary Fiber: 0.30g
Sugars: 0.10g
Protein: 1.56g