Everyone and their mother has a recipe for homemade Pesto. It really isn’t that hard to make, but like most simple dishes with a few components, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients. This version keeps it traditional while  lightening it up. Most Pesto’s are 4 Points Plus for 2 tablespoons and this one is only 3 Points Plus. I am proud that I was able to shave an entire Point off the serving without sacrificing any flavor.

I should start by telling you that traditional Basil Pesto {with linguini or fusilli and chicken} is one of my husband’s all-time favorite dishes. Me, I prefer a dairy-free pesto and am much more flexible about the herbs and nuts. I tend to lean towards things like this or this.

But, this dish was all about my husband. His birthday was this weekend and I wanted to make him one of his favorites. I started out by growing my own basil (you clearly do not have to do this– lol!). It wasn’t as easy as just throwing some seeds in a pot, since we have some serious shade cover out front (the only spot with direct sun). Overall,  the basil did well and I was able to harvest enough to make two cups of this Pesto. To the basil, I added in top quality organic pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese with just a touch of salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

If you follow my Facebook page, you know I posted about a week ago and asked if I should join Instagram – well I did and I am loving it {username: everydaymaven}. Anyway, I posted a picture of our dinner using this Lightened Up Basil Pesto on there and when my husband saw it, he said he was sad because it was over and there was no more. Little does he know, I have two jars in the freezer and can make this for him at a whim. I should probably tell him so I can secure more back rubs and some good favor.

Birthday Dinner: Jovial Whole Grain Einkorn Linguini with
Summer Tomatoes, Free Range Chicken and Lightened Up Basil Pesto.
On the Side: Green Beans cooked with garlic tossed with 2 tablespoons Pesto
and topped with 1 tablespoon toasted Pine Nuts and 1 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese.


  • I usually store homemade pesto in small mason jars. Think of this like Guacamole – the less air, the better. Fill the jar or container to the very top, immediately cover and refrigerate or freeze for later. When you use some, use a piece of wax paper to press down on the top and limit air exposure.
  • Toast the pine nuts by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the pine nuts in one even layer and cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning and tossing frequently.
5.0 from 2 reviews

Lightened Up Basil Pesto



3 Points Plus Per Serving — Individual Serving is 2 Tablespoons — Recipe Makes 8 Servings
Serves: 8

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (see NOTES)
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in bowl of food processor.
  2. Process for about a minute, leave processor running and slowly drizzle in olive oil until well combined.
  3. See notes for storage ideas.