Photo by  Ann Cutting

Photo by Ann Cutting

All Purpose Pesto

Pesto is a great camp site addition for a number of reasons. It is made easily in a mortar and pestle--a tool that comes in handy when camping. It is a slow-mo form of pulverizing the herbs, garlic, salt and finally the oil, and can be handed off to a helper. It keeps well and it tastes good on so many "pesto delivery systems"--pasta, pizza, toasted bread and of course, sliced polenta. I do not add the Parmesan cheese until serving, as the pesto keeps longer this way. 


  • 2 generous bunches of basil, washed and dried 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (depending on your taste preference) 
  • About 1 cup of walnuts or pine nuts 
  • About 1/4 cup good quality olive oil 
  • Salt to taste
  • Parmesan cheese grated freshly at serving as much as you like 

Method for Camping

  • Tear all the leaves off of the basil and discard the stems. It helps to then chop the basil roughly. 
  • Add the basil to the mortar and pestle and pound to a paste.
  • Add the nuts  and garlic and continue pounding to create a dry paste.
  • Add the oil slowly until you have created a runny sauce. 
  • Add salt to taste. 
  • Best to make pesto immediately before use. If you have leftovers keep cool in your camp cooler. 

Note: This recipe works fine at home as well and is even simpler. Just add all ingredients but the salt in a food processor using a chopping blade. Blend, then add salt to taste and any ingredient that seems insufficient.