The Daily Dirt

Educational pesto

The middle school in my neighborhood has a great school garden, with fruit trees, berry bushes, and raised beds growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil. LOTS of basil.

BasilDo you have a lot of basil in your school garden? Wondering what to do with it all? Throw a Back to School Pesto Party! Kids can harvest basil, pull leaves off stems, measure out olive oil, nuts, and cheese, and grind it all up in a food processor. Eat it all now on pasta or pizza, or freeze some for later! The following recipe is a good, basic pesto recipe. Bon apetit!

Yield: 1 cup of pesto


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup pine nuts (walnuts work well, too)

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese


1.)   Place the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

2.)   Add the olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.

3.)   Season with salt and pepper.

4.)   Mix in the cheese.

Serve the pesto immediately on pasta, pizza, or any other dish.

You can also freeze the pesto to use later, just don’t add the cheese. After step 3, pack the pesto into an air-tight container and drizzle a little of the olive oil on top. Freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw and stir in the cheese.

Lesson Extension: Use the measurements as a chance to practice fractions. If you only have a quarter-cup measuring cup, how many scoops do you need to make 1/2 cup of cheese?

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