Rachel Cooks

Mild Pesto {to freeze!}

This is pesto you can eat on a first date.

Well–I can’t guarantee you won’t have green stuff stuck in your teeth after you eat it, but I guess you gotta live on the edge a little bit. Besides, it’s the truest test of character–will your date tell you about it or let you walk around all night with pesto stuck in your teeth?

When I say “mild,” I’m talking about taming down the flavors a bit. Because let’s be honest, pesto can be strong stuff! This pesto lets you taste the gloriously toasted pine nuts.

And continuing with the honesty here, the pine nuts are the best part. Not to mention stinking expensive. Might as well replace them with something else if you can’t taste them! Because this pesto is a little more “tame” than its garlicky brothers and sisters, make sure you use really great olive oil, because you’ll taste that too. There is also some spinach mixed in to stretch the quantity a bit and to…tame it down. More. I promise it still packs all the pesto-y goodness you could ever wish for!

Okay…I guesssss I’ll keep being honest. I didn’t have any garlic in the house. That mayormaynot be the reason this pesto doesn’t have garlic in it. But let’s not sweat the small details. I just ate a whole bunch of this slathered on a piece of bread and I’m not breathing hot-garlicky-fire. It’s good stuff. Don’t send me hate mail telling me that it isn’t pesto without the garlic. I’ll email you back! Just warning you!

And yes, I know it is a bit late for a recipe involving basil–but if you have a huge pot you need to use up before the cold comes (like I did!), this is your recipe!


Mild Pesto

Total Time: 5 minutes

This pesto has a mild flavor and makes a large enough batch to have plenty to freeze.


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup toasted & cooled pine nuts
  • 12 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups good olive oil


  1. In a food processor, add basil, spinach, pine nuts. Pulse until it has a texture of course meal. Add cheese and pulse until combined.
  2. Add oil in steady stream while food processor is running. Continue to add olive oil until pesto is a smooth paste.
  3. To freeze: Put in small containers or zip-top bags. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before using. I freeze mine flat in zip-top bags in small portions so they thaw very quickly.


Verdict: I can literally eat this by the spoonful.
Husband’s take: He’s not a huge garlic fan so he really likes this take on pesto. I did it for him–not because I didn’t have garlic in the house. Yeah–let’s go with that.
Changes I would make: Not a single one! But-if you love garlic, and you have it in the house–throw a few cloves in the food processor with everything else for a more “traditional” pesto.
Difficulty: So easy!

Share on Yummly
When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
I love to see what you're creating!

20 Responses to “Mild Pesto {to freeze!}”

  1. Kathryn — September 20, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Lol…you are too funny Rachel. Love the idea of ‘first date pesto’; I’m normally a big garlic fan but I don’t like how it can sometimes overwhelm the other flavours in pesto so this looks like a great alternative.

    • Rachel — September 20th, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

      Thanks! You can always throw a clove or two in. It’s allowed. 😉

  2. Jenny @ BAKE — September 20, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I love the consistency of your pesto and that spoon shot shows it off so beautifully!

    • Rachel — September 20th, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

      Thank you so much!

  3. shelly (cookies and cups) — September 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I love the idea of freezing pesto! I honestly have never thought about doing that before..duh!

    • Rachel — September 20th, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

      It’s so perfect to enjoy all winter!

  4. Mackenzie {SusieFreakingHomemaker} — September 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I absolutely LOVE this! And what I really love is that you mentioned first dates! People have actually asked me what they should make for a first date! This is genius!

    PS – your photos are stunning.

    • Rachel — September 20th, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

      Thanks! xo

  5. Angela @ AnotherBitePlease — September 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I Love Love Love pesto…and now since I’ve been married 12 years I can eat on all date nights with hubby and not worry too much about the green in my teeth. LOL. I am excited to make and freeze – have never frozen before!

  6. Monet — September 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Just what I needed! We made pesto last weekend and my goodness…it was spicy! I love the thought of using spinach to calm the flavors down. Thank you for sharing. This would be perfect with a fresh loaf of bread or a big bowl of pasta!

  7. amy @ fearless homemaker — September 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

    the timing of this is perfect! in Nashville, we need to use up our basil plants in the next few weeks or else they’ll be kaput. i was actually just out in the garden yesterday thinking i should make a big batch of pesto to finish up the basil. and yes, pine nuts are freakin’ expensive! i think that every time i buy them for pesto. =)

  8. Cassie — September 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I love the reasoning behind the name, so cute! Pesto is a favorite in our house and I love how it is so versatile!

  9. Sues — September 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I LOVE the color of this! Good call on adding the fresh spinach. And it’s so true about pine nuts… but yes, they are SO expensive!

  10. Tracey — September 20, 2012 at 11:27 am

    At this moment I’m totally regretting not having grown basil this year. Nothing like homemade pesto in the freezer to sustain you all winter, and this version sounds great!!

  11. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — September 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I officially haven’t been able to get pesto out of my mind all morning!! YUM.

  12. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — September 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I was seriously just thinking about making a huge batch of pesto to give to Jason since he’s away from home and he has no time to cook! I can’t wait to make this – he’ll be so thrilled!

  13. Laurie {Simply Scratch} — September 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Love that color!

  14. Nati — March 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Not *all* pesto has garlic, Roman pesto is the most popular one and it does have garlic, but the Genovese recipe doesn’t have any garlic at all – lovers’ pesto, if you will 😛


  1. Pingback: Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini » Rachel Cooks

  2. Pingback: Growing Memories { Miracle-Gro Gro-Ables Review Part 2 } » Rachel Cooks

Leave a Comment