Aromatic mint basil pesto with pine nuts, lemon juice, and Parmesan, this refreshing, delicious pesto is perfect for pasta, sandwiches, salads, and so on.
A delicious spin on a classic basil pesto, this mint basil pesto recipe is super easy to make and incredibly versatile. A small jar of pesto is something you should always have in the refrigerator (or freezer); it has saved dinner so many times. When I have no idea what to cook, the first choice is always pasta with an easy pesto sauce.
One of my favorite things about late spring and early summer is watching and taking care of my overflowing herb patch. Vast bushes of mint, lemon balm, different types of thyme, sage, parsley, coriander, and so on. I admit I can’t grow basil outside, the climate will not allow it, but I always have a huge basil pot on my windowsill.
Table of contents
- Taste the olive oil that you intend to use. If you find it too bitter, replace 1/3 or ½ of it with neutral-tasting oil, like canola.
- To keep it from oxidizing in the fridge and retain its bright green color, keep it covered with a very thin layer of olive oil.
- When mixing it with pasta, I always add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to loosen it a bit. You can also mix it with some heavy cream or a mixture of cream cheese and a little milk (or pasta water).
All simple ingredients, but they have to be of good quality.
- Regular fresh basil leaves: The kind you will be more likely to find in the grocery store.
- Fresh mint leaves: Peppermint or spearmint or a mixture of the two. I use a mix most of the time, I have two huge bushes that kind of grow into each other, and I don’t always pay attention to what I pick.
- Parmesan: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese from a wedge. Never use pre-grated Parmesan for making pesto (or anything else actually…).
- Pine nuts: The kind of nuts traditionally used for making basil pesto. However, you can use other nuts instead.
- Extra virgin olive oil: I prefer a milder, fruitier olive oil. It has to be good quality, good-tasting oil as it is an important part of the ingredient list.
- Garlic: 2-3 grated garlic cloves or more to taste.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Spices: Fine sea salt or Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, some red pepper flakes, or a pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste).
- Use other nuts or seeds instead of the relatively pricey pine nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashew nuts are all great for making this basil mint pesto recipe.
- For a nut-free pesto, use sunflower seeds/pepitas.
- You can add some parsley leaves as well.
- Sub the Parmesan with Pecorino or another hard cheese. For a vegetarian recipe, use cheese made without animal rennet.
- If the lemon is organic and unwaxed, zest it and add 1-2 teaspoons (to taste) lemon zest to the mixture.
- Wash the herbs, shake them well over the sink to remove some excess water, then pat them as dry as possible with kitchen towels.
- Pick the leaves from the stems and measure the amounts you need. I prefer to use a digital kitchen scale (Amazon affiliate link); I find that measuring leaves in cups is almost impossible.
- Mix: Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse a few times until well combined. Scrape down the walls and the bottom of the blender pitcher and repeat.
- With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Blend until the mixture is smooth. You can add more oil for a smoother consistency, but it’s fine as it is for us.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and blend again.
Instructions for Thermomix users
- If you use this kitchen gadget to make the basil and mint pesto (like I do), you don’t have to grate the Parmesan and the garlic; the food processor can manage just about anything.
- Mix: Place all the ingredients (including the olive oil) into the machine’s bowl and blend on Speed 10 until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the walls of the machine several times in between.
- Tip: However, making pesto in Thermomix only works well if you make a large batch of pesto, at least 2 times this amount, preferably 3 times.
- In this case, place about half of the herbs in the Thermomix first, process on Speed 5-6 them until finely chopped, add the rest and mix again. Then, add the remaining ingredients and blend the pesto on Speed 10.
Not if you make it with Parmesan which is made with animal rennet. To make it vegetarian, use cheese made with artificial rennet.
Two small jars. A total amount of 200 g/ 7 oz of mint and basil pesto.
Store in jars in the refrigerator; it will keep for at least two weeks.
Definitely, I freeze all the pesto I make. Leave about 1 cm/ ½- inch headspace when filling the jars and freeze them; they will keep for at least one year. Defrost in the fridge or on the counter.
How to use mint basil pesto?
- Make sandwiches. Simple cheese and pesto sandwiches are fantastic. Any cheese tastes amazing, but my favorite combination is with Camembert or Brie.
- Make wraps: Fill them with cream cheese, pesto, salad leaves, and/or other veggies and cheese (feta is my favorite), or make chicken or tuna wraps.
- Fill pita bread: Use the same ingredients suggested for making wraps.
- Use on pizza.
- Stir a few teaspoons with roasted or boiled potatoes, cooked rice, gnocchi, and, of course, pasta.
- Use it to make pasta salad (with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, for instance) or potato salad, grain bowls, and so on.
- Make salad dressings.
- Smear it on chicken breast or lamb chops and bake.
- Mix it with roasted vegetables or any kind. Also great with cooked green beans, peas, fennel, or eggplants.
Recipes using pesto
Aromatic Mint Basil Pesto
- 1 Food processor
- 2 Small jars
- 30 g basil 1 oz, Note 1
- 35 g mint 1.2 oz
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 15 g pine nuts 1/8 cup/ ½ oz
- 50 g Parmesan freshly grated, ½ cup/ 1.8 oz
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 75 ml olive oil 1/3 cup/ 2.5 fl. oz
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Prepare the herbs: Wash them, shake them well over the sink to remove the excess water, then pat them as dry as possible with kitchen towels.
- Pick the leaves from the stems and measure the amounts you need (Note 1).
- Mix: Place the leaves, grated garlic cloves, pine nuts, grated Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chili flakes in the food processor. Pulse a few times until well combined. Scrape down the walls and repeat.
- Add oil: Scrape the walls of the food processor again. With the motor running, start adding the olive oil. Blend until the mixture is smooth. You can add more oil for a smoother consistency, but it’s fine as it is for us.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and blend again. Transfer to jars.
- I prefer to use a digital kitchen scale (Amazon affiliate link). I find that measuring leaves in cups correctly is almost impossible. Not to mention that it takes ages.
- Thermomix instructions:
- Make at least the double amount of pesto, preferably more, the Thermomix will not manage to blend only a small amount of ingredients properly, but it works perfectly when you make more pesto.
- Place ½ of the leaves in the bowl of the food processor and mix until finely chopped – Speed 5-6. Add the remaining leaves, pine nuts, whole garlic cloves, cubed Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and olive oil.
- Blend until smooth on Speed 10, scraping the walls of the food processor a few times in between.
- Adjust the taste and blend again.