Mary Manion

Mint Basil Pesto

Mary Manion
Mint Basil Pesto
Mint Basil Pesto

In my book, summer means pesto and lots of it. Of course, the classic pesto features lots of gorgeous summer basil… but I have a long history of tinkering with the classics.

As I mentioned the other day, the only thing truly thriving in my little garden is the mint.  It’s sprawling into the areas where the cucumbers and eggplants are trying to grow (umm, excuse me…), and it has nearly smothered the poor marigolds.  So, I lopped off an armful the other day and embarked on a fresh mint recipe quest.  There are only so many blackberry mojitos a girl can drink in the summer.


And so I created this pesto.  I find it tastes a bit lighter than the classic version… the peppery undertones of basil are there, but the mint cools and brightens the flavors a bit.  (Fun fact: Basil and mint are part of the same family of plants.)  Oh, and this little creation finally gave me the opportunity to use a gorgeous bag of pine nuts that has been waiting impatiently in my pantry for the past few months.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet Nancy, a friend of one of our family’s oldest friends.  She’s been reading Bourbon & Brown Sugar from her home in Northern Michigan, where her family runs an import business. We hit it off instantly and chatted non-stop about food and recipes.  A few weeks later, a box stuffed with dried mangos and cranberries and ginger and blueberries and cherries and figs and apricots and sun-dried tomatoes – and pine nuts — from the Great Lakes International Trading Company arrived on my porch.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this colorful box of happiness. Thanks again Nancy, you are the greatest!!

I’m finally diving into this culinary treasure trove, beginning with the pine nuts. Every time I wander into my pantry, I start to contemplate all amazing baking and salads I’ll create with the rest of the stash.  So many possibilities…

I served the pesto over pasta the other night alongside a grilled steak and sliced tomatoes.  This pesto would also be lovely on bruschetta or pizza or grilled veggies or roasted potatoes or on your poached egg at breakfast…  Really, during the summer, pesto should be dolloped on just about everything.

Mint pesto, check.

Any other brilliant ideas as to how else to use all this mint?

Mint Basil Pesto

Makes: About 2 cups


  • 1 ½ cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup good-quality olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


  1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until a smooth paste forms.
  2. If you don't use it immediately, place it in a glass jar in the fridge, and drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top of it. It will keep for a couple of weeks.