Basil Pesto Recipe

A summertime classic from Cornman Farms

One of the best parts about summertime on the Zingerman’s Cornman Farms property is the bounty of fresh herbs growing in the Chef’s Garden. One of my absolute favorite ways to spruce up a lazy summertime meal is to add a dollop of basil pesto.

We make our pesto with basil grown on the property as well as some grown by our friends at Raising the Roots farm. Picked at its prime and blended with Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio, pine nuts, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil, our fresh pesto is bursting with flavor. 

fresh basil for pesto
Photo courtesy of Cornman Farms

If you’re looking to whip up a light meal, I recommend toasting a Zingerman’s Bakehouse Zinglish Muffin, adding a dollop of pesto, a slice of Zingerman’s Creamery mozzarella cheese, and drizzling with balsamic vinegar. If you want to take it to the next level, add some grilled chicken breast and fresh tomato slices.

basil pesto recipe

Try the recipe below or pick up some Cornman Farms pesto at Zingerman’s Creamery today!

Basil Pesto

Course Side Dish


  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 anchovies (optional)
  • 4 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated


  • In a blender, Vitamix, or food processor, combine the oil and garlic.
  • Once garlic is well chopped, remove half of the mixture and put it aside.
  • Add salt, pepper, and cider vinegar to the blender bowl. (You can also add anchovies at this point if desired.)
  • Add 1/2 of the basil and blend until the basil is well incorporated. Continue to blend for a further 20 seconds. (Tip: For greener pesto, blanch the basil leaves, ice and drain prior to making the pesto!)
  • Add the second half of the basil. As you mix on full speed, slowly add the reserved garlic and oil mixture.
  • Add the pine nuts and blend until well-incorporated, then continue for an additional 20 seconds.
  • Remove pesto from the blender and put into a mixing bowl. Fold in the finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Salt to taste and chill until use.


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Chef Kieron Hales’ career began in England at the age of 13, when he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. Since then, Kieron has lived and cooked in 27 different countries. His bona fides include working at the three Michelin star Paul Bocuse in France and Dal Pescatore in Italy, as well as cooking for the British Royal family and three U.S. Presidents. In 2008, Kieron emigrated to the United States to join Zingerman’s and pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations. After a few years as Executive Chef of Zingerman’s Roadhouse, he opened Zingerman's Cornman Farms. In addition to his chef’s hat, Kieron wears many other hats as he brings his vision for our farm to life. He takes great pride in curating his beloved door yard garden, creating seasonal menus, teaching cooking classes, guiding farm tours, providing personal service to our guests, mentoring his team, and sharing his love and knowledge of food with everyone he encounters. Meet him and you’ll see: Kieron’s zest for life, and specifically for food, is contagious.

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Stephanie Whitbeck
Stephanie Whitbeck
3 years ago

I’ve never seen vinegar in a pesto recipe. What is its purpose? Also, whenever I’ve made/used pesto, I drizzle a thin but complete coating of EVOO on its top to preserve it when storing it for storage in either the refrigerator or freezer which keeps it from darkening and spoiling. Doing so keeps air from reaching it which is an old way to preserve.

Kieron J Hales
3 years ago

Great question and Preserving thought. We add a little vinegar/lemon juice to add some freshness and give the pesto a bright finish. Not need but great when using right away. Oil on top for sure mine keep like that in the fridge at home for months. Thanks for the question and thoughts.
Keep cooking
Kieron Hales