Basil Pesto

This is a very simple recipe for one of my favorite sauces, especially during the summer. This recipe is a version that we make for our clients, so we omit both cheese and nuts. I know that sounds crazy when it comes to pesto, but I promise it is still delicious. If you want, you can always add a little parmesan or some ground walnuts or pine nuts to the recipe, but we in the kitchen (as well as the clients) think this one tastes pretty darn good. Hope you enjoy!

Basil Pesto

Yield: 2 cups

  • 4 oz. fresh basil leaves
  • 1 pound fresh baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Begin by tearing the basil leaves and spinach slightly so they will fit a bit better in a blender.

Add all the basil, spinach, garlic, and lemon juice to your blender pitcher.

Add the water, then turn the blender on low. The water will help get the spinach and basil moving in the blender. If you need to, add a small amount more to get the blender moving so it will chop the greens.

Once it starts pureeing, turn the blender speed up to medium and slowly add the oil until it is all incorporated.

As soon as you are done adding oil, turn the blender off. Pro tip–if you let the blender run too long, the greens get pureed too much and will eventually start to turn brown from being over-blended. If you turn it off after the oil is added, you will be fine.

Pour the pesto out into a mixing bowl and season it to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if necessary. Store in a sealed container in your fridge for two to three days.

Serve over your favorite piece of fish, or simply tossed with some freshly cooked pasta.


Chef Brandon FosterBrandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado, almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.

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