Cheap and Easy Pesto

Pesto is delicious. It has 2 problems, though: pine nuts are expensive and have literally only 2 uses. Ain’t nobody got time for mortar and pestle. This recipe solves both those problems… assuming you have a food processor.

If you’re somewhere with a Metro, they sell basil in large clam shells that are about 4 cups of leaves. 

You’ll want to make pasta the first time you make this so you can get a cup of the pasta water.

The recipe makes 3 cups of sauce, and about 1/3 of a cup is good for a serving of pasta. So 9 servings total

Cheap and Easy Pesto

Prep Time8 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time13 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian, Italian
Servings: 9 servings
Calories: 313kcal


  • 3-4 cups basil fresh, leaves only, packed
  • 14 oz chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pasta water (or more, depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan


  • Add the chickpea, garlic and parmesan to a food blender and blend on low until the chickpeas are fully ground- 1-2 minutes
  • Add the basil leaves to the processor and start processing on low, then slowly add the oil as it processes until the leaves break down and mix into the rest of the ingredients, then add the vinegar
  • Slowly pour in the water until the sauce begins to resemble your desired consistency.
  • Taste the sauce, add salt and pepper as desired and pulse to combine.


Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 173mg | Potassium: 383mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g