Easy Fresh Basil Sauce for Appetizers or Pasta Salad


Easy Fresh Basil Sauce for Appetizers or Pasta Salad


While Pesto, the classic basil sauce from the Genoa region of Italy, is basically a sauce for pasta, it is also a convenient topping to add flavor and color to canapés, marinated cheese, sandwiches and pasta salad, and even pizza. Commercially made pesto is available in small jars the US, as it is in Italy. It tends to be expensive.

Easy Fresh Basil Sauce for Appetizers or Pasta Salad


Pesto is somewhat complicated to make, requiring in addition to fresh basil leaves, pine nuts and pecorino or Parmigiano cheese. Because I’ve been making appetizer dishes for our restaurant’s catering, I’ve often needed a basil-based condiment for highlights or marinade. So I make a much simplified basil sauce that serves our needs.


Here’s a recipe for this simple sauce. It makes a small quantity, since not much is needed for most things. But the recipe can easily be multiplied if needed. Use it for lightly topping sliced fresh mozzarella for a side dish, or put a little on thinly sliced Toscano or Asiago cheese on a cracker (and add a couple drops of honey!). Or marinate fresh mozzarella balls or chunks with it for Caprese skewer appetizers. It can be mixed, in limited quantities, into pasta salad or drizzled onto sandwiches or other dishes where fresh basil highlights would be exciting. Mix some of it into a little more olive oil for a wonderful dip for crusty bread.


12 medium-large fresh basil leaves

Easy Fresh Basil Sauce for Appetizers or Pasta Salad
Basil Sauce served with Fresh Mozzarella
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 drops vinegar

A pinch of sea salt

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Rinse and drain the basil leaves. On a cutting board mince them very finely, almost to a paste, with a chef’s knife. Place basil in a small dish from which the sauce can be served. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients. Allow to season at least 10 minutes, then stir again.


The sauce tastes best when used within an hour or two of making it, but it will store for a day or two refrigerated.



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