Easy to make basil pesto which is better than anything you will purchase in a jar! Can’t beat that homemade freshness!
I love basil! I mean LOVE it! It shows up in so many of our dishes and adds so much flavour! While we love to use it dried or fresh, in the summer, when fresh basil is in abundance (thanks to multiple basil plants in our herb garden), it gets used A LOT!
One of my favourite ways to use fresh basil is to turn it into fresh pesto. It is so easy to make and full of such delicious, herby flavour. Its perfect on pasta and on sandwiches or basically anywhere else we can think of to put it!
While you can purchase basil pre-made in a jar, you really can’t beat the fresh stuff! And when you realize just how easy it is to make, you won’t resort to jarred pesto again!
How to make Basil Pesto at home
Making fresh pesto is super simple to do with the help of a food processor. To make it, I use:
- 4 cups basil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub walnuts if you don’t have pine nuts on hand)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 garlic clove (optional- it adds great flavour but I’ve developed a food sensitivity to it and can’t use it anymore. The basil is still delicious without it, so feel free to leave it out)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
In the food processor, you add basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, salt and lemon juice. Pulse it until it resembles a coarse meal. With the processor running, slowly begin to drizzle in olive oil. That’s it!
If you love pesto but find that the basil is a bit too over-powering for your tastes or you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, there are a few things you can do.
Switch up the ingredients
- No pine nuts on hand or want a more economical option? Use walnuts instead!
- Not enough basil? Or find the basil flavour too overpowering? Swap out 2 cups of basil for spinach instead.
- If you find pesto a bit overpowering in flavour and you are using it as a pasta sauce, you can add a bit of pesto to a pan and add some heavy cream (and maybe some Parmesan too, because, yum) to make it a creamy pesto sauce!
Freezing fresh pesto
If like me, your basil plants are producing more basil than you can eat, preserve it. Make the pesto as directed in the recipe below and then scoop it into an ice cube tray. Freeze and then transfer to a freezer safe bag. When you are ready to use, add the frozen pesto cubes to your pan and heat over medium-low heat to defrost. You can also leave the cubes out on the counter for a bit or in the fridge overnight to defrost.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!