Fallow Restaurant London

British Pesto Sauce

A pesto that is great for a quick, easy and delicious midweek meal. Pair this fresh homemade pesto sauce with a really high quality gnocchi, pasta or filled pasta.

Why is pesto so popular?

Pesto sauce is a classic sauce that everyone should have in their culinary arsenal, it can elevate a classic, simple dish and takes no time to prepare at all. It’s vibrant, and versatile and has become a staple in people’s kitchens all around the world.

Where does pesto originate from?

This basil-based sauce that originates from Genoa, the capital of Liguria, Italy is made with basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and parmesan. It’s the perfect base if you want a sauce that is bright and herby, with the option for a topping of cheese and pine nuts for salty and rich aftertaste. The attraction of this sauce is truly in it’s simplicity.

The word ‘pesto’ originates from the Genose verb ‘pesta’ which means ‘to pound’ or ‘to crush’, in reference to how the sauce is made – typically with a mortar and wooden pestle. This technique brings out the green colour of the chlorophyll in the basil.

How do I make pesto sauce?

In order to make this sauce, you start by blending all of your ingredients together and seasoning to taste. The process can take up to 15 minutes of cooking in total, with 10 minutes of prep – the full recipe is below so you never have to buy a store-bought jar of pesto sauce again.

What can I serve with pesto sauce?

Whilst pesto sauce is typically served with pasta due to the sauce complimenting the natural taste and texture, it’s incredibly versatile. It can be paired with roasted vegetables, grilled meats, pizzas or even used in spreads, dressings or marinades on fresh salads or sandwiches.

Sandwiches and wraps are a great base for pesto. A sandwiches such as a Caprese with mozzarella and tomatoes, make for a light and delicious lunch. It’s particularly enjoyable with sourdough bread, fresh tuna, jalapeños and avocado -try our Fallow sriracha on this combination!

Pesto can also be used as an interesting alternative to a traditional tomato base on a pizza. Pairing this with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and grilled chicken lends a fresh twist to this dish.

It can also used as a marinade, glaze and dip. It can also be incorporated into dips such as hummus or pesto-infused cream cheese – a fresh, crusty baguette dipped into pesto sauce makes for a perfect side or starter.

Pesto does not only have to be only enjoyed at lunch or dinner time! It can be incorporated into breakfast and bunch dishes, such as scrambled eggs, frittatas for a burst of flavour to start the day off correctly!

What’s a good substitute for pine nuts in pesto?

Pesto sauce can be enjoyed in many dishes, for people with allergies or dietary requirements, the recipe can be amended. For example, pine nuts can be substituted for roasted sunflower seeds and anyone with a vegan diet, or lactose intolerance, can swap out Parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast. The beauty of this recipe that these changes won’t compromise on flavour. Cavolo Nero and walnuts are also great substitutes for basil and pine nuts if further amendments are needed.

It’s a culinary gem for a reason, there’s an abundance of flavour, it’s easy, adaptable and will inspire food enthusiasts everywhere. The uses of this sauce is only limited by imagination!


British Pesto Sauce

  • Author: Fallow Restaurants
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 people 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Cuisine: Italian, British


Units Scale
  • 200g basil, picked
  • 100g spinach, stalk removed.
  • 45g grated cheese
  • 35g roasted hazelnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 60ml blanching water


  1. Start by bringing a pot of water to the boil. Have a slotted spoon close by.  
  2. Pour the oil into a blender jug followed by the hazelnuts, garlic, cheese, basil, salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice. 
  3. Place the spinach in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, until it goes bright green. 
  4. Transfer it from the water straight to the blender, along with 60ml of the blanching water. 
  5. Blend all ingredients to a bright green, smooth sauce. It should resemble thick double cream. You can adjust the consistency with a little extra blanching water if needed. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  7. If cooking with gnocchi, add your gnocchi to the pan with a splash of the blanching water. Cook the starch out for a few minutes then add your sauce. Cook the gnocci with the sauce for 3 minutes to mantecare it. Top with more grated cheese and oil and serve. 

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!