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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Grow Your Own Basil Pesto

Lesson Description:
Students will grow basil and garlic. After harvesting the herbs, students will combine ingredients to make their own garden fresh basil pesto.

Eco-Fact: Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 tsp of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods, not from the saltshaker.

  1. Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, garlic, nuts and about ½ the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container with a spatula or spoon. Add the rest of the oil gradually. 
  2. Stir in the cheese by hand. Taste for salt. You can also add more oil if you prefer a thinner sauce. 
  3. Makes: About 2 cups 


  • Make Your Own Mint Pesto: Substitute mint for basil, canola oil for olive oil, and omit the cheese. 
  • Make Your Own Arugula Pesto: Substitute arugula for basil, and omit the cheese.

Lesson Type:
  • Experiment
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Materials Needed:
  • Blender or small food processor 
  • Spatula or large spoon 
  • Cheese grater 
  • Measuring cups and spoons 


  • 4 cups loosely packed basil, rinsed and dried 
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese 
  • 1 c. olive oil 
  • 4 TB pine nuts or walnuts 
  • Salt to taste 
  • French or Italian bread and grilled vegetables for dipping; or, serve on pasta or as a pizza topping.

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:

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