Pesto is one of the most versatile gluten-free sauces I use in my cooking. I often make the classic basil pesto with basil, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts and always have a pot in the freezer ready for a host of recipes.

It is easy to tweak and change the flavours and make other versions like the sundried tomato version or watercress and walnut ones below. Just use the flavours you like. How about a cashew, coriander and lime pesto? See what ingredients you have in your kitchen and give it a go.

Gluten-Free Pesto

Traditional basil pesto


Makes c.175ml, enough for 2 portions for 2 people

Classic Pesto

  • bunch of fresh basil (c.15g)
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 30g parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 75ml good quality olive oil

Sundried Tomato Pesto

  • As above with 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste or 6 soaked sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

Watercress Pesto

  • Swap the basil for watercress
  • Swap the pine nuts for walnuts


In a coffee grinder (if you have one) or a food processor, blend all the ingredients to a fine paste. Don't add all the olive oil to start off with - add it gradually until you have a stiff liquid.

Lots of different nuts work well in pesto. Think about flavours that go well together or that you enjoy.

I love pesto served with freshly cooked pasta, or as a topping for white fish. Simply spread your pesto on the fish and cook in the oven or grill. Try my simple Lemon Pesto and Trout Pasta - a lovely light dish.

If you have a coffee grinder (I have a Revel Wet 'N Dry grinder and find it is great for making pesto and curry pastes etc...) then you can just cut your parmesan into chunks and the grinder will do the work for you. If you are making your pesto in a food processor it is easier to grate your parmesan first.

The classic pesto recipe will tell you to toast your pine nuts first. You can do this - simply dry fry for a couple of minutes in a frying pan and allow to cool before adding to your pesto. However I can rarely tell the difference between toasted and untoasted once in a I don't bother. That said nibbling a pile of toasted pine nuts is divine!