For years I’ve been longing for pesto.  I tried making it once and it was a complete flop…too horrible for this blog.  Then I made it last year for  pasta, pesto, and peas, and still wasn’t thrilled as it was way too garlicky.  But I knew that with some tweaking I could get it right.  So since my basil plants needed some serious trimming this weekend, I decided to give the pesto another go.

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My only hesitation about this recipe was the amount of olive oil.  I don’t have the “good” olive oil that Ina always calls for and thus I think many of her vinaigarette recipes that I make end up tasting a lot like the oil.  Plus, I wanted to make the pesto a little lighter and knew the oil would spoil that for me.  So I cut the oil down to 1/3 cup (from 1 1/2 cups) and added 3/4 cup of plain yogurt and this simple change brought the WW Points down from 12 Points to 4 Points per serving.  Not too shabby!!  Serve over 1 cup of whole wheat pasta and you’ve got yourself a 7 Point meal that will knock your socks off!  The yogurt made the pesto nice and creamy rather than oily and I was instantly sold on the idea of using yogurt as a substitute in other recipes as well.

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You’ll see that Ina has some instructions for storing the pesto below. I froze mine in snack size baggies in 2-serving portions.



source: adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!


  • 1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Place the pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, yogurt, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.


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Leave a Comment

  • July 8, 2009 at 7:19 AM

    Great idea to use the yogurt. I swear yogurt can be used in anything and make it delicious. 🙂 Looks great!

  • July 8, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    WOW – that looks so creamy and delicious!!

  • July 8, 2009 at 8:34 AM

    I love the addition of yogurt. I never would’ve thought to try that!

  • July 8, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    I’ll definitely have to try this out! YEAH!

  • Brianna & Dustin
    July 8, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    Beautiful pasta – I’m a huge pesto fan!

  • July 10, 2009 at 10:15 AM

    This looks great. And, kudos for subbing the yogurt – what a great idea!

  • insanelygoodfood
    July 20, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    Great idea about the yogurt!!! I’ll have to give it a whirl! :o)

  • danielle
    June 29, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Made this last night over whole grain penne. SO good! Even my 3 year old liked it!