Presto! Pesto!

There’s one thing I make that my boyfriend hates.  It’s this Pesto.

How’s that for selling a recipe?  First lesson in blogging … always start out a recipe post with how much someone hates it.  I should really write a book on this stuff.

And he doesn’t just hate it with an mediocre intensity … he hates it with the intensity of the fiery sun blazing down on a tiny, shell-less bug meandering across the hot baked dessert surface.  In July.  During the Apocalypse.

So I make it every night.

No.  No I don’t.  I make it whenever he isn’t going to be home at night for dinner, because I happen to LOVE this pesto.  As does everyone else I’ve ever made it for.  And not just mediocre love.  It’s the kind of love The Pope feels for God, the kind of love I feel whenever I see a picture of a fluffy kitten sleeping in a shoe,  the kind of love a 15 year old boy feels for every set of boobs he sees  You know.  True love.

It’s not your average pesto because its base is milk as opposed to oil.  The result is a pesto tasting cream sauce, like an alfredo but far less rich.

I LOVE IT WITH ALL MY HEART.  Phew.  Had to say that.

Best thing about it?  It’s really easy and really fast to make.  From me to you … a quick and easy, yet delicious … Pesto!

Pesto Ingredients


Gather your ingredients.
Pesto Ingredients


1 cup basil (packed)

1 cup parsley (packed)

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg


1.  Add basil, parsley, garlic to blender or food processor.  Blend.



2.  Add cheese , salt pepper and oil.  Blend.





3.  Finally, add pine nuts.  Pulse until slightly chopped.



4.  Melt butter in large saucepan.  I use a nonstick pan.

melting butter pesto


5.  Add flour.  Cook 3 minutes without browning.



6.  Kay, mine browned a little bit.  Not so much to have to start over though.  Add milk.



7.  Whisk until it’s well blended.



8.  Bring to a boil.  Cook gently 5 minutes.



9.  Add additional salt and nutmeg.



10.  Stir in basil/parsley mixture.



11.  Combine well.



Like so …



12. Serve with linguine and a side of crostini with olive oil and sea salt.  Top with a few toasted pine nuts.



And I’ve left the best for last. The VERY best part of this pesto?  You can freeze it.  OH YES YOU CAN!  I know … it’s a milk based cream sauce.  You’d think that’d screw everything up when it comes to freezing.  Nope.  Not at all.  So while the bounty of ingredients are fresh and plentiful (haven’t said anything that Amish in a long time) you should whip up a couple of batches to have on hand for the winter.

Now … I’m off to help raise a barn.



  1. Yolanda says:

    I just stumbled upon your site and boy am I happy! Love your wit and sense of humor and your recipes look amazing! Looking forward to making this pesto, o adore basil! I’m assuming you user whole milk? Thanks in advance.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Yolanda. 2% is fine. I’ve actually used 1% as well. Whatever’s in the house really, lol. If you feel like it needs it you can add a glug of whatever kind of cream you may have in your fridge. :) ~ karen!

  2. Liz says:

    Is there a printable version of this recipe? Looks so yummy and love that it can be frozen!
    Thanks Karen.

  3. AKing says:

    I made this tonight and it was amazing! My pine nuts had gone bad :( so I substituted some rosemary Marcona almonds from Trader Joes. So good, thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome! I love it too. Too bad the one and only person I live with hates it. It’s the only thing I make he doesn’t like. What a weirdo. :) ~ karen

  4. Leelee says:

    Sounds wonderful and I fully intend to try it, but you can’t really call it “Pesto”. It’s a bechamel sauce with pesto in it. I make a chicken pizza with pesto, alfredo sauce, chicken, artichoke hearts, spinach, black olives with 5 italian cheeses on top. I’m going to make this sauce to take the place of my regular pesto/alfredo base.

  5. Denise says:

    haha I live that as well, my boyfriend and children HATE pesto!! I however adore it, my solution, small portion in my freezer just for me :)

  6. Abbie says:

    Three words: Oh. My. God.

    Awesome recipe — my tongue and tummy thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Abbie – LOL. Did you make it? Or is this reaction based solely on the look of it alone? :) ~ k

      • Abbie says:

        Oh, I made it. I ravaged my wimpy basil plant over the weekend in order to come up with enough basil — and I don’t regret it. Heaven on a plate. With pasta. And tomatoes and pearl mozzerella on top.

        Although, when I first saw this post initially, I had a similar reaction. Except it was my eyeballs and salivary glands that were thanking you.

  7. jamie says:

    made this tonight… AMAZING! but you already knew that it’s amazing or else you prob wouldn’t have posted about it. the whole family loved it… even the baby

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jamie! Yup. I know it’s amazing, LOL. I try to only post recipes I KNOW are delicious. Glad everyone approved! ~ k

  8. Patty says:

    Love, love, love PESTO! In fact, I made pizza tonight an we always ONLY use pesto, never red sauce. I am looking forward to this recipe. Especially since I can freeze it! Thank you.

  9. Trysha says:

    butter + flour + milk + nutmeg = LOVE

    Its the roux base I use to make mac n cheese. that nutmeg puts it just over the edge and I never tell anyone that part so it never tastes just like I make it. I’m so rude.

  10. Pam'a says:

    Although it’s a slight adulteration, you CAN make pesto with walnuts if you can’t afford pine nuts, which face it– are about like cooking with gold nuggets the way prices are. Try starting with a smaller amount, adding more if it suits you. (This beats the heck out of trying to take them back out if you overdo it.)

  11. Linda says:

    My husband I eat completely different meals so this is no big deal for me. I can’t wait too make it!!! If I had the ingredients on hand right now I would probably make it now rather than go to bed. Yum Yum I can’t wait.

  12. greenwords says:

    This looks sublime. And as another person from Queensland, Australia, I have both parsley and basil in the garden all ready to go – can’t wait to try it!

  13. Jonalynn says:

    I made this for dinner and it was a hit!! Thanks! None of us are huge pesto fans, so it was a bit risky. I have to be honest, no pine nuts~can’t afford them and luckily they don’t impress me. I love how quickly it all came together. My hubby pulled in the drive as I was finishing the pasta. Before he finished changing out of his work clothes,the sauce was done! I made a bruschetta to go with it and my first tiramisu for dessert. YUM!

    • Karen says:

      Jonalynn! Excellent. I laughed when I saw someone had already made this for dinner! If you hate pine nuts don’t add them, but if you’re just indifferent to them just buy a tablespoon or so next time from the bulk store and *toast* them in a pan before using ’em. Toasting them makes all the difference. (but if you don’t like ’em … you don’t like ’em and you may as well avoid ’em) ~ karen!

  14. marilyn says:

    hey karen great recipe that i also will have to make for myself as john doesnt like pesto either! or creamy sauces! but he would eat just about everything else so i cant complain! we should have dinner together on pesto night.

  15. teresita says:

    nice recipe!!, I’m going to try the “hate” issue blogging, haha!

  16. Deb says:

    lol…Karen, I was sitting here thinking how special I am that a blogger actually replied to a comment from me (which you do often with many people and that’s pretty special in and of itself), but then I didn’t want you to think I was pants-wetting, window-licking, short-bus kind of special (uhh, and I don’t want you to think I think you are). Anyway, was pleasantly surprised (gak!) that pine nuts in bulk were ONLY $21.49 per pound. My mistake. : /

  17. Chau says:

    Yummy recipe Karen :-) Your pesto/white sauce gives me an idea: I will use it for the seafood enchilada instead of just plain-old milk white sauce. The added flavor of herbs (basil-parsley-pinenut or cinlantro-mint-jalapeno to gear toward Mexican Chimichuri sauce) will definitely bring the enchilada recipe to the next level. Thanks for freezing tip, too.

  18. Deb says:

    Coinkidinkally, I’m making pesto today. I’m so glad I read this before I started making it. This is something I could eat every night (and would if I didn’t mind looking like Jabba the Hut in about 2 weeks). Off to store to buy pine nuts. Those little puppies have gotten even more expensive than they used to be…$35/pound! Good thing I only need a little bit, should only cost about $29). But, to be honest, I decided to harvest some one year when I was living in the mountains, as a lark. Four hours later, I had exactly 1/2 cup of pine nuts. I’d charge more for them, to be sure.

    Thanks again for the recipe and for the truly great blog.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Deb! And I know! I just about punched the cashier in the face when she rang up my pine nuts. I knew they were a lot but had NO IDEA how much they’d gone up in price. $15 for a small bag. ~ karen!

      • Chau says:

        This is what I learned from hike organized by the local Sierra Club Chapter at Big Bear Lake Mountain Resort in Southern California. Pinenut comes from pinyon pinetree. You can recorgnize the pinyon pinetree by its single-needle leaf, not a cluster. Local native Indian harvest the nuts in the fall by picking the pine cones littered the forest floor every year. I wonder whether you have pinyon pinetree in Canada.

  19. Love basil or pesto anything! This looks like a winner.

    P.S. My husband doesn’t HATE basil, but he’s very wary of it. He does, indeed, HATE cilantro with a fiery passion, though. Sigh!

    • Pam'a says:

      Mine too! Won’t go near cilantro. This plus the fact that I can’t even utter the WORD “bean” without causing him dire gastric distress really cramps my options. Oh, and he won’t eat cereal for dinner either, dang it.

  20. Nancy says:

    Sounds yummy son would probably love it but my boyfriend wouldn’t touch it..he is very son and I are trying to eat healthier so I wonder if I we could use fat free milk and light butter..not sure if we could find low fat parmesan cheese but will try..your fella is so handsome I would forgive him for not liking the pesto as long as he just sits there quietly and looks

    • Karen says:

      HI Nancy! The lowest I would go for this recipe is 1% milk. If you want a healthier option choose whole wheat pasta as opposed to low/no fat anything. Low/no fat things are usually loaded with weird stuff and filler. And ironically there are usually almost as many calories as buying the real deal. For eating healthier, you’re better off to go with full fat and cut out anything white. White bread, white flour, white pasta, white sugar etc. etc. So go nuts … use real parmesan cheese but do it with whole wheat pasta. ~ karen!

  21. Jaime says:

    this looks so delicious! i need a food processesor!

  22. Deb says:

    HI Karen,
    I’ve been following your blog for about a year now. Love your humor. And a big THANKS for each step-by-step picture you post with the instructions. I appreciate that I can SEE what the food is supposed to look like (or not look like :) Thanks again.
    And by the way, we used to have a chicken who didn’t like her coop. So, being that we lived in the country, and didn’t have neighbors, we let her roam around the yard. She laid her eggs in my perennial gardens :o/ Her name was Pecker (my kids named her, hehe)

  23. blake says:

    YUM! Mouth watering…

    ps new word of the day…amazeballs!

  24. magali says:

    My mouth is watering! I am in charge of supper for tonight (which is rare, my bf cooks in our household) so I think I might make this! I LOVE pesto in general!

    • magali says:

      I made the Presto Pesto after all. It was yummy but very thick. All the noodles kind of clumped together. Do you have an idea why? Did I cook the milk and flour for too long?
      My boyfriend said he liked it anyway. I medium believed him, until he got up for seconds.
      I think next time I will add more garlic. I like my pesto to really taste like garlic.

  25. Jen says:

    On a side note, how on earth does one take a closeup photo of themselves, while using both hands to grate nutmeg?

  26. Jen says:

    I’ve finally found my final justification for buying a food processor. Also, I’m drooling.

  27. Pete says:

    When I first saw the picture with the pine nuts, I thought it was garlic. I was thinking, no wonder he doesn’t like it… who wants to eat that much garlic?

  28. Sandy says:

    Awesome! It’s morning here in Louisiana, and I already know what’s for supper. That frees up some mental energy for the rest of the day, and, hopefully, it will redeem me to the fam for the failed tofu attempt last night.

  29. Jill says:

    I pinned this as well. Yum to the ee.

    I can’t believe he hates pesto as much as you hate brussel sprouts. ;)

  30. I love that you don’t use heavy cream and that you use milk and flour! I’ll have to try this recipe soon because I LOVE creamy pesto.

  31. Cheryl in Wisconsin says:

    My friend that makes the best basil pesto in our area code has a boyfriend that makes a unattractive noise any time she cooks with basil. Why is that? Is basil/pesto gendre specific?

  32. Angela says:

    This is similar to something I make, only I don’t use flour and I add extra cheese. Because extra cheese makes everything better. But I lost the recipe and have just been winging it, so now I’ll just stick with yours. I’ve never made a roux before, I’ll feel so fancy when I do!

  33. sue says:

    Well, my first thought as someone who is half Sicilian was, milk? WTF? But you redeemed yourself completely when you used fresh grated cheese (of course), pine nuts (brava!), freshly grated nutmeg(smells divine) and delicious crostini. Molto bene, you can cook for me and mine anytime! I will have to try this and freeze some. Now, your boyfriend is a cutie but…what is wrong with him and this dish? Hate??? Really???

    • Karen says:

      Sue – Hah! Phew. Passed the Sicilian test. :) ~ karen!

    • Julianna says:

      This Sicilian girl agrees with the first one! Was so happy to see you adding the nutmeg to the cream sauce. Minus the pesto bit, that’s pretty much my cream sauce for Tetrazini. I’d go make this NOW, were it not for the cabinet installers in my kitchen giving me a remodel. Not that I’m complaining. I’ll have to pin to remember instead… but Geez-Louise, that sounds a LOT better than the restaurant food I’ve been living on while this kitchen thing happens!!!

  34. Mary says:

    You were up posting at midnight….I woke up at 4AM…arghhh! Bet you are sleeping, lucky you! We bought a VitaMix last week and I have lots of basil and parsley. I will sell some of my old gold so I can afford some Pine Nuts and I will be good to go! VitaMix has been here 1 week, we have made ice cream, margaritas, smoothies, limoncello sorbet….it is probably time to make something healthy! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Karen says:

      Mary – Yup. I always post at midnight then … off to bed. We’ve wanted a VitaMix for AGES! ~ karen

      • Michele says:

        You’re probably gonna hate me for this, but I’m so proud that I tell anyone who might care… I found a BRAND NEW VitaMix at a flea market for $20!!! Best deal I ever got.
        My fella told the seller how much it was worth after we made the purchase and all he could say was: “leave now”
        I felt bad for him, but so great at the same time.

  35. Jen says:

    This IS the year I am going to make Pesto. Never heard of making it with milk. Looks good. Question. After the post I see “11 comments”…but I can only see three comments. Any idea why?

    • Karen says:

      Jen – I post at midnight then go to bed. I approve all the comments, so until I wake up and approve them … the post just shows that there are 11 comments, but not the actual comments. ~ k!

  36. Mandy Y says:

    Another Aussie here who enjoys reading your blog ;) Perhaps I can be your replacement girl….
    Great recipe by the way – loads of parsley and basil in the garden here, even in winter – the joys of subtropical Queensland!

  37. Mindy says:

    Um, yum. He’s clearly not right in the head to hate it. Clearly.

    I have a super secret tip. Not to be a secret anymore. If it’s winter (or you live in Oregon) and there’s no basil in the garden and you’re paying out your @$$ for it in the grocery store, you can cut it with spinach. I thought of that when I saw that you used parsley, which sounds good by the way. The spinach stretches your basil dollars and the pesto still tastes exactly the same as if you had used all of the good stuff. So there ya go, your freebie of the day.

    I’m ‘pinning’ your pesto. That sounded dirty.

  38. Claudine says:

    So it’s true. This is Alfredo AND Pesto. Sounds like heaven. Thanks for the recipe.

  39. Centi says:

    That looks delicious… it’s so sad my husband hates pesto, too.
    Perhaps if I didn’t tell him it was a pesto sauce but a totally harmless cream sauce that just happens to be green?

  40. Kristen says:

    This looks delicious! To be honest, I’ve always loved the flavor of pesto, but am not a fan of how oily it is, so this seems like the perfect solution. I’m definitely going to try this out – thank you!

    Btw – I think this is my first time commenting, but I love your blog. Your humor never ceases to amuse. And your chicken coop? Holy $*%@balls, it’s amazing! (and that’s coming from someone who studied architecture in college – I know me some good design!) Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

  41. Pati says:

    Looks DELISH, Karen ! I love all things Basil so I’m sure I can talk myself into making this in my very near future.

  42. Julie says:

    It looks fantastic to me! So glad I don’t have any pine nuts on hand or I’d be making it right now. Of course, my bad self is telling me “Walnuts will work”. I can almost guarantee I will be making this in the next 24 hours. Thanks!

  43. Marti says:

    Whoa. You mean now that I’m on the overnight shift, I get to read and comment FIRST? YIPPEE!!

    Wish I’d read this before I bought that big butt jar of fatty-fatso pesto at Costco last week.

    • Karen says:

      Marti! Hah! That’s you. FIRST. I had a girl here from Australia who was FIRST all the time. Then she got engaged and mono and I never heard from her again. Here’s to your health! ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        I just got the overnight shift where I work, Karen, and you will be my reward for being up all night!

        NOW… GO TO BED!! I guess it’s all by yourself, unless the fella was just out for drinks with his guys. (Good for you for making something just for you!)

      • Shannon @ bakeandbloom says:

        Ha Karen! I am back..I have been lurking around the Internet for a little while now…I actually didn’t have mono….I was on masterchef Australia and technically wasn’t allowed on the Internet for like 6 months so I fibbed. I have been super busy since the show and haven’t gotten around to getting the blog back up and running but I am still reading you…love the coop.

        • Karen says:

          ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? O.K. When will it air? I’ll download the torrent! And now I’m getting incredibly suspicious! Another friend of mine has been out of commission because she said SHE had mono. This is getting very strange! Welcome back! ~ karen

        • Shannon @ bakeandbloom says:

          It’s just finished in Australia a few weeks ago. that’s a fun episode if you want to watch. So glad to be out in the real world again!

        • Karen says:

          I LOVEEEEEEEEE MASTERCHEF!!! ~ karen!

        • Jan says:

          Yay for Aussie Masterchef! I watched. Am fans of you both! – this is kind of weird!

        • Devin says:

          I really enjoyed reading this comment thread! I also LOVE masterchef. And this pesto sauce looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it.

          In case your wondering why I’m commenting a bajillion years after this post went up, it’s because I got a new job about a month ago which requires me to take a mutual fund exam, so I’ve been studying on all my time off and fell REALLY behind on my blog reading!

        • Karen says:

          Shannon – I’m just on Episode 3 right now! Are there really … like … 80 or more episodes in this season???! And by the way, I’ve hosted many, MANY competition shows like this in Canada. It’s kind of my speciality, :) So I *know* better than anyone how much work it is and how incredibly hard on the contestants. 18 hour days, no sleep and STRESS. Congratulations regardless of how you did on the show! It’s a tough gig. :) ~ karen

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