Recipe: Fresh Basil Pesto

Baz Nichols sets out a recipe for one of our signature crops – fresh, aromatic basil leaves.


  • 50g pine nuts
  • 80g basil
  • 50g parmesan or vegan alternative
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

One of my favourite Vertegrow herbs is our fresh Basil. We supply ‘micro’ versions, and fully matured leaves, and always have plenty of it at various stages of growth. All stages of growth including ‘petite’ leaves are fresh and punchy, and really good in pesto, salads and dishes where you want to show off a more attractive looking leaf.

Pesto is great for an instant, robust flavour hit, and I like to drop it on to grilled vegetables, pasta, chicken, squash, salads, eggs, toasted bread, pizza, sandwiches… you get the idea. With just a few easy steps, it makes anything an instant tasty meal, whether you feel like spending time in the kitchen or not. Traditional pesto is a blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. With a food processor, it comes together in just a few steps:

Pulse the nuts, lemon juice, and garlic in the food processor until they’re finely chopped. Add the basil and pulse again.

Next, drizzle in the olive oil with the food processor blade still running.

Finally, add grated Parmesan cheese and process briefly until combined. For vegan pesto, just skip the cheese.

Swap out the pine nuts for any nut of your choice! I particularly like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios or make a nut-free pesto by using pumpkin or hemp seeds. For a different flavour, you can also try using a different herb: consider replacing the basil with Vertegrow’s rocket, kale, mint, coriander, or parsley (or mixing some of these alongside half the basil).

Punch up the flavour! Add 2 to 4 sun dried tomatoes, a charred jalapeño, nutritional yeast, or a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Recipes and suggestions by Baz Nichols, Vertegrow Culinary Consultant.