Easy to make and ready in a flash this Parsley Pesto is fresh and delicious. Also known as English Pesto this is perfect for using up a glut of parsley. We love it on some toasted sourdough but there are so many great ways to use it.
I started a herb garden just after the lockdown began and it's been so great to see all my herbs growing strong. My parsley, in particular, has really thrived and I wanted to make the most of it, so I made this lovely parsley pesto.
This is such a great option if you have a lot of parsley growing. You can add it to gnocchi, or stir it through some freshly cooked pasta. It's also delicious on toasted sourdough for a quick and tasty snack.
Why This Recipe Works
- Great for using up a glut of parsley.
- So quick and easy to make.
- It's so versatile, perfect with pasta, gnocchi or on toast with poached eggs.
What You Will Need
- Parsley - I use flat-leaf parsley also known as Italian parsley. I prefer this to curly parsley as it has a stronger flavour. But if curly parsley is what you're growing or have then absolutely, use that!
- Pine nuts - You can, if you want too, use walnuts, I find them slightly too bitter for the parsley. I always toast the pine nuts and leave them to cool, they give the pesto a really lovely toasty flavour.
- Cheese - If you want to keep this pesto vegetarian then use Pecorino, if not parmesan is fine. I like lots of cheese in my pesto, you can reduce the quantity if you like.
- Extra virgin olive oil - Look for good quality oil, I prefer a mild flavoured extra virgin olive oil in pestos.
- Garlic - This is optional but if you are a garlic lover, like me, then I highly recommend it. Two cloves will suffice.
- Seasoning - I use coarse sea salt, I find a pinch is just enough as the cheese is salty but taste it and adjust according to your taste buds. The same goes for freshly cracked black pepper.
- Lemon juice - A little squeeze of lemon juice will lift your pesto, I recommend not skipping this.
How To Make Parsley Pesto
This is just a quick visual guide, please find the full recipe below.
- Toast the pine nuts - add the nuts to a dry pan and toast until golden brown.
- Blend the parsley - drop the parsley, pine nuts, and minced garlic to a food processor and blend briefly.
- Add the cheese - place the cheese into the food processor and blend until combined.
- Finally, add the oil - slowly add the oil while the processor is on. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and season to your own taste.
Tips For Making The Best Parsley Pesto
- Parsley - Use flat-leaf parsley, this has a stronger flavour to curly parsley.
- Blending - Don't over blend your pesto. You don't want your pesto to be too smooth, there should be some texture in there. So blitz it for a maximum of 30 seconds.
- Pine Nuts - Some recipes call for the pine nuts not be toasted, that's fine if you are making your pesto the traditional way using a pestle and mortar. That way you crush the pinenuts first and release the oil from the nuts and it gives you a creamy base for your pesto. But seeing as we are blitzing them in a food processor I like to toast the pine nuts first, this adds a warm toasty flavour to your pesto. I add extra cheese and oil to make the pesto creamy.
- Cheese - To keep pesto vegetarian I use a hard pecorino cheese, you can use most hard Italian cheeses to make this pesto. If you're not worried about the pesto being vegetarian then go ahead and use parmesan.
- Seasoning - I add barely a pinch of coarse sea salt to this as the cheese is quite salty, and the same goes for black pepper as I don't want it to overpower the parsley. But go with your own taste buds, add more if you need it.
- Quantities - You can absolutely play around with the quantities for this recipe, you can add more parsley if you want and reduce the amount of cheese or oil. This pesto is how we like it, you may like yours with more texture or with less cheese. Go with what feels right for you, this recipe is very adaptable.
How To Serve Parsley Pesto
We love this with gnocchi, or in a pasta dish like my Mushroom Pesto Pasta. It's also really good in a Pesto Pasta Bake or in an Orzo Pesto Salad. But another great way to use this pesto is to simply spread it on some toasted sourdough and top with a shaving of pecorino cheese. Even better add a poached egg for a seriously tasty breakfast.
How long will fresh pesto keep for in the fridge? Pour the pesto into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour a little extra virgin over it, this will stop the pesto from oxidizing, keep it in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for four to five days, but to be honest, mine has never lasted that long.
Can I freeze fresh pesto? This recipe makes a small batch of pesto so we tend to use it within 4 or 5 days. You can freeze it though if you wish. To freeze, divide the pesto into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer, once frozen transfer the cubes to an air-tight freezer bag or container. I would use it within two months. If you freeze it in an ice tray then you can defrost as much or as little as you like. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
More Saucy Pasta Recipe Inspiration
If you prefer your sauces on the creamy side then try my Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta dish or my Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta, both very popular in my house.
Prefer a good pasta bake? Then try my Creamy Kale and Mushroom Pasta Bake.
Have you made this Parsley Pesto Recipe? Rate it and leave me a comment below to let me know what you think!
- 3 loosely packed cups (40g) flat-leaf parsley I add some of the stems but remove any very long stems.
- ⅓ cup (40g) pine nuts
- ½ packed cup (60g) finely grated pecorino cheese
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ⅓ cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil + more for covering the pesto when storing.
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- A small pinch coarse sea salt adjust to taste
- A small pinch freshly cracked black pepper adjust to taste
- Add the pinenuts to a dry pan and toast until golden. Set aside and leave to cool.
- Add the parsley, pinenuts and minced garlic to the food processor and blitz very briefly, 30 seconds max.Next, add ½ a cup/60g of finely grated pecorino cheese and blitz and for about 5 seconds. Set the processor to a slow speed if you can. Now slowly pour the oil, about ⅓ of a cup, through the spout until it is combined with the parsley mixture.
- Finally, stir in a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and season to taste.
- Use straight away or transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour a little oil over the top of the pesto to stop it oxidizing then keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- Parsley - Flat-leaf parsley works best, as it has a stronger flavour than curly parsley.
- Cheese - I use hard pecorino cheese to keep this pesto vegetarian. You can use parmesan if you are not vegetarian.
- Storing/freezing - This pesto should be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge and used within 5 days. You can freeze the pesto if you wish, it should be used with two months. Please see post for freezing instructions.
- Nutritional Information is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. it is based on one serving of pesto used to make one dinner, serving four people. It does not include any pasta or gnocchi you add the pesto too.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible.
Nancy A Smith
Hi Michelle, we love your parsley pesto recipe. Our Italian parsley is growing so well, this is a great way to use it. Has anyone tried it with basil instead of parsley? Seems like it would be fine, as the recipes are so similar.
Hi Nancy, I'm so glad to hear that you love the pesto! Yes, you could definitely use this recipe to make basil pesto. Mx
Why do u suggest pecorino instead of parmesan for vegetarian cooking? Parmesan is made from cow's milk n pecorino from sheep milk.
Hi Lorna, authentic Parmesan is never vegetarian as it is made by using animal-based rennet. You can, however, find some brands of pecorino that are made by using non-animal rennet and are therefore vegetarian. Some vegetarians don't mind using parmesan so if that's you go ahead and use parmesan.
I will try this later this weekend, but it looks like a good basic pesto recipe. Thanks for the tip to make it with Italian parsley! I have a ton. I'm very confused about your concept that pecorino cheese is "vegetarian" while parmesan is not. Parmesan is usually made with cow's milk and pecorino with sheep's milk. Pecorino isn't necessarily made with a vegetarian rennet. They're both excellent cheeses.
Hi Marilyn, I absolutely agree that they are both excellent cheeses. The pecorino I buy is 100% vegetarian, although I agree not all pecorino is vegetarian. I have yet to find a Parmesan cheese that is vegetarian that's why I recommend using the pecorino or any vegetarian hard Italian cheese. Some vegetarians I know use Parmesan and some don't. It's up to the individual which cheese they prefer, I just try to make it suitable for all. I do hope you enjoy the pesto if you get a chance to make it. Best wishes, Michelle.
Such a great way to use up my garden parsley! This recipe was easy to follow and so tasty! I'll definitely be making again.
Absolutely gorgeous Pesto and colour. Have always wanted to grow my own herbs/veg etc but I can't keep anything alive!
I love the freshness of homemade pesto but I've never made it with parsley. It looks gorgeous.
I love that you grow your own herbs!! And this pesto sounds yum!! I can't wait to try it. Cheers
Thanks so much Adrianne. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
So glad to hear your Lockdown-garden is doing well and wow - what a gorgeous pesto! I've never made homemade pesto before so cannot wait to try this out and impress everyone with it!
Thanks so much Shashi, I hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to make it x