Pestle Pasta Pesto Recipe

woman wearing a winter jumper holding a bowl of pasta and pesto

Perhaps the ultimate quick and easy lunch, and loved by kids, pesto is a simple and super adaptable pasta sauce. The traditional Genoese recipe of pine nuts, garlic, basil, olive and parmesan or pecorino cheese pounded together with a mortar and pestle (the name pesto comes from the Italian verb “to pound”, and “pestle” shares the same origins) can be edited to suit the contents of your fridge and cupboards, or your personal tastes or dietary requirements. There’s no reason to keep buying pesto in jars when it’s this easy to make:

 bowl of cavolo nero pesto and pasta


  • 85g toasted nuts, such as pine nuts or walnuts
  • 85g Kale or Cavolo Nero
  • 85g grated Parmesan cheese or vegan alternative such as Violife Prosociano
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 150ml olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced

using a pestle and mortar to make cavolo nero or kale pesto 


  • Lightly toast the nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  • Whiz everything except the cheese together in a food processor or go full traditional and smash it all up in a pestle and mortar.
  • When mixed to a coarse consistency, add the cheese and give a very quick blitz to incorporate.
  • If not eating immediately put your pesto in a bowl or jar, top with a little more oil, and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. It also freezes well in ice cube trays or washed out old yoghurt pots (if you’ve not yet been able to eliminate these single-use-plastic containers from your life), for when you need individual portions in a hurry.

cavolo nero
You can get kale or cavolo nero and a single lemon in our Small Mixed Fruit & Veg Box, or order the ingredients individually as extras to your Fruutbox order.