Pesto made with breadcrumbs

15 April 2018
Pesto is a much used condiment around these parts. Each autumn I like to blitz up a big batch and freeze it to use throughout the year.

Pesto is so handy to have around, and of course pesto made from scratch is so much tastier than the jarred stuff. Pesto stirred through pasta has got to be the ultimate quick dinner, but don't stop there because it's so versatile. Here some of the ways we put it to use:

  • Spread it on the base of a pizza instead of tomato sauce
  • Add to scrambled eggs to make 'green' eggs
  • Dollop on top of soup
  • Stir through white sauce for lasagne or pimped-up corned beef
  • Use as a dip by stirring through some extra oil or something creamy
  • Pesto mayonnaise potato salad....yummo!

Purple and green basil

Each year is generally a little different as I play around with which nut to use or what to use instead. It's normally a case of what I have on hand. This year the cupboard was particularly bare of all things nut and seed like. But then my memory tugged on something that I had read or heard somewhere about making pesto with breadcrumbs and so I thought I'd give that a go.

Breadcrumbs have a couple of advantages for me in that they are readily available, very local (straight off my bread board), reduce food waste and come sans packaging. Multi-win!

If you are nut free or making this for nut free people in your life then there is that added bonus too. If said people or yourself happen to be nut and gluten free another good pesto substitute ingredient is sunflower seeds. I've also used almonds, walnuts and cashews with tasty results (obviously not nut free!).

And don't stop there - you can completely mash up this recipe by switching out the basil for something else green. Rocket and parsley (separate and together) are firm favourites in our house but you could also use coriander and even radish or carrot tops (which are a bit grassy for my liking but they have their own fan base). I'm sure there are many  more options out there.

Once you've decided on your ingredients of choice it's time to get going. Simple wash your leaves and strip them from the stems. Then add to your food processor with garlic, parmesan and nut/seed/crumbs of choice. Start the motor and then start drizzling in your oil until the pesto 'loosens' up or is the consistency you want it to be.

But how much Laura I hear you ask. Well, I tend to adjust it based on taste (or what I have on hand). This batch was about 3 cups of basil, 2 cloves of garlic, 100g parmesan (roughly) and about 1 cup of bread crumbs. But honestly this is a great recipe to get a little relaxed about and go more for rough guidelines than rigid rules. Don't like raw garlic? Use roasted. Got some lemons on the bench? Add a squeeze. You get the picture.

All whizzed up and ready to go.

Once you've got your pesto made you can store it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it for longer storage. I generally freeze tablespoonfuls on a baking tray and then once fully frozen pop them into a container. This way it's already in easy to use portions.

Have you been making any pesto before the cold weather gets the basil?
Any other additions or substitutes you've tried out?


  1. I was looking at my basil plant yesterday and thinking I should make some pesto before the cold weather really sets in. Thanks for the reminder, Laura.

    1. Yes, I've been looking at mine with the same thoughts and finally bit the bullet. I didn't want to be caught out with a Canberra cold snap and regret not taking quicker action.

  2. My poor basil got fried by the heat, Laura. Luckily I got some cuttings to strike, so I haven't lost out completely. I like pesto, but always put in too much oil. Like, all the rivers run, kind of pesto! Need to experiment more. Chillies are what are bursting from our garden, at present. They'll need drying soon. I already made some Chilli jam, to preserve some.

    1. Glad you managed to salvage some of the basil Chris. Maybe you could add a few breadcrumbs to your pesto to soak up some of that oil. I've been preserving some chillies of late too - only off one bush but enough to give us sweet chilli sauce and to try out some pickled chillies. Love getting the preserves stocked away!

  3. Hi Laura Lou! Greetings from warmer Adelaide. Really enjoying your blog and your relaxed way of approaching gardening and cooking. Great idea to freeze pesto - will try this as last years didn't last long in fridge before it seemed to ferment. Keep warm with those cups of tea! Kerry x

    1. Hey Kerry, hope the pesto freezing works out well. I used to freeze a whole year's supply in Adelaide - sadly my harvest was not quite so big this year from my pots. I hope things are growing well in your amazing garden xx


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