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If theres a classic summer flavor, homemade basil pesto sauce is it! There are many variations, but Im going to show you how to make pesto sauce with just 5 ingredients and from there you can mix and match the nuts you use, or make other easy swaps for any dietary restrictions. Either way, its ready in just 5 minutes. I have a feeling youll want to make this basil pesto sauce recipe all summer long
This time of year, the basil plants are growing uncontrollably. You prune them and then they grow even faster! Anyone else have a hard time keeping up? If you do, this homemade basil pesto is the answer to your too-much-basil-problem. But its not a problem anymore, because I have a delicious answer. While I love store-bought pesto throughout the year, nothing compares to the flavor of fresh basil.
It adds such great flavor to just about anything. Try it on fish, grilled chicken, veggies, or whisk it into salad dressings or mayonnaise. Its incredibly versatile and I always recommend having a stash in your fridge or freezer.
Next time you find yourself with a big pile of basil leaves fresh off the plant? Its time for this basil pesto recipe.
Can I Freeze Pesto
Yes! If youre planning on freezing your pesto sauce, youll need to make it without the cheese. Line plastic wrap over an ice cube tray and pour your pesto into the cavities. Freeze the ice tray until your pesto is completely frozen, then transfer it to a resealable bag. When youre ready to use the pesto, just defrost it and add in your cheese!
How To Make Homemade Basil Pesto
This homemade basil pesto is made with a handful of fresh and flavorful ingredients. Quick and versatile, pesto can be used in a variety of recipes like my sausage & garlic pesto flatbread, pesto shrimp, or mixed with cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, spread on sandwiches, artisan bread, and more. And, as a bonus, this from-scratch pesto is much easier than you think and tastes worlds better than store-bought.
This homemade basil pesto is my absolute favorite. Its classic, simple, flavorful, and completely fresh. Youll appreciate how easily it comes together and that it tastes infinitely better than store-bought versions. Homemade pesto can be a dip, sauce, or spread and pairs wonderfully with so many flavors. Bottom line? Pesto is an easy way to instantly elevate any savory dish.
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How To Make Pesto From Scratch:
Like I said earlier, I am using a food processor in this quick pesto recipe. And once you’ve blanched the basil, it really takes two steps from there:
- Blend. Add the basil , toasted pine nuts or walnuts , fresh garlic , and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Cover and run the processor. As the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil from the top opening.
- Mix in the cheese. Transfer the basil mixture to a bowl. Add the grated Parmesan cheese . If you need to, add more extra virgin olive oil to help mix it. Watch for the consistency you like.
- Season. Taste and season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper to your liking.
How To Make Pesto Sauce With Basil
Try this recipe for Pesto Geneovese that Matthew demonstrates in the video above.
Making basil pesto is a simple procedure. You’ll start with a few simple pesto ingredients: a few cups of packed fresh basil, 3 or 4 peeled cloves of garlic, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, and pine nuts. There’s not much prep work involved.
You’ll simply blend together the basil, nuts, garlic, and cheese in a food processor . And then slowly pour in the olive oil while mixing. Adding salt and pepper at the end to taste. And that’s how to make basil pesto sauce. That’s essentially all there is to it. There are, of course, tasty variations on this basic recipe.
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How To Store It
I like to store my basil pesto the same way I store my harissa paste, in a tightly-closed mason jar with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to seal the very top layer. Place the pesto jar in the fridge for use as needed. And as you use it, be sure to replenish that top layer of extra virgin olive oil to keep it nicely sealed .
If stored properly, basil pesto will keep well in the fridge for a good week or maybe a little big longer.
How To Blanch Basil
This basil sauce starts with a step to make sure the sauce stays beautifully bright green. Its called blanching! Blanching is a cooking method where you boil vegetables until theyre crisp tender, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. The point of it? To lock in the bright green color of vegetables that turn brown. Heres how to get a beautifully bright green basil sauce:
- Boil only 30 seconds to 1 minute! The boiling time is quick: you just want it to be bright green! Add the basil to a small saucepan of boiling water and boil until bright green, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Immediately plunge into an ice bath. This stops the cooking process and locks in the color. Once the leaves are cool, remove them from the water and squeeze out as much water as possible.
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What Is Basil Pesto Made Of
Basil pesto is made with fresh basil leaves that you can find in the produce section of the grocery store. Its an aromatic herb that is used widely in Italian cooking. Classic basil pesto is made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and sometimes lemon juice or zest. However, there are many variations of basil pesto with and without nuts.
Can You Freeze Pesto
Pesto is great for freezing!
- Scoop into a zippered bag and label it with the date. It should keep about 6 months.
- Another handy way to freeze pesto is to pour it into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, put them in a zippered bag and pull out a cube or two as needed.
Its great to add to sauces, dips or soups, or even as a topping on a burger or scrambled eggs!
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How To Make Basil Pesto Sauce At Home
Basil pesto is a treat and one of the best ways to enjoy basil. Im talking about homemade pesto sauce, not the shop-bought one from the jar. The fusion of flavors in it is a marriage made in heaven. So, today Ill show you how to make your own basil pesto sauce.
Basil is an annual herb that likes warmth. Its easy to grow your own in the garden during the summer or in pots indoors all year round. Pick tender leaves regularly to prevent them from flowering and stems from getting woody. Leave one plant to mature and collect the seeds for the next season. Alternatively, buy fresh basil in shops.
Pesto can be made using mortar and pestle, chopped with a herb cutting knife or in a food processor.
To make fresh basil pesto sauce youll need following ingredients:
- A large bunch of basil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- Sea salt
Use the quantities as a guide only and dont be afraid to experiment. To be honest, I dont follow the recipe anymore. I just pick some basil leaves from the garden, add few cloves of garlic, salt, nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and some good olive oil. Traditionally, pine nuts are used in basil pesto recipes, but I often substitute macadamia or cashew nuts for pine nuts.
How Do You Use Basil Pesto Sauce
The most common way to use basil pesto sauce is to mix it with cooked and drained pasta Also, you can add it to gnocchi or filled pastas such as, ravioli or tortellini.
I use pesto sauce in my Chicken Pesto Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes. However, it can also be used in appetizers such as this delicious Puff Pastry Pesto Chicken Bites Appetizer or used as a sandwich spread for a panini, flat breads or other sandwiches.
You can also mix it with mayonnaise, cream cheese or sour cream to use as a dip or spread.
Its versatile! I freeze my homemade pesto sauce and then when I run out I keep a store-bought jar in my pantry for a last-minute dinners.
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What Is Pesto Sauce
Pesto sauce is a basil-based sauced made with grated parmesan and pine nuts. This version includes spinach as well. One of the best things about pesto sauce is that there are tons of ways to change it up if youd like. You can use kale, walnuts, almonds, different herbs or even add nutritional yeast. Pesto sauce is hard to mess up. Its perfect for picky eaters and lovers of bold flavor alike!
Do You Have To Cook Basil Pesto
No. Just toss it in cooked, drained pasta and itll heat up with hot pasta. You dont need to cook pesto sauce.
Learning to make basil pesto sauce is super simple. Youre going to be amazed at how easy it is. Youre going to love the flavor it gives to your dishes, not just pasta. Wow your family with this delicious recipe!
- 1tsplemon zest or juiceoptional
- salt and pepper to taste
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How To Make Basil Pesto Sauce
Thanks for sharing! You rock!
Learn how to make a classic pesto sauce with this easy-to-follow recipe! Its so fresh and flavorful and has many uses other than pasta. Plus, its SUPER EASY! 6-ingredients, low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan option
Every summer I look forward to making basil pesto sauce from my basil plants. The fresh flavor is absolutely amazing! Ill make it and add it to spaghetti and drink my favorite red wine with it. Its a taste of Italy for sure and has become a summer tradition. But, you can make this recipe with grocery store basil so, dont let the season deter you from making it any other time. Itll be just as good.
A Note About The Basil
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
I omitted one big factor in my tests: the basil. As essential as basil is to Genovese-style pesto, I concluded that most of us have a limited set of options for it. Unless you’re reading this from Liguria itself, you probably don’t have access to the prized basil of that region.
If you happen to grow your own, lucky you. If you have access to a good farmers market that carries beautiful tufts of fragrant basil at the height of summer, definitely go for it. If you have to settle for supermarket clamshells of hydroponic herb, well, then, that’s what it’s going to be. And, frankly, some of that stuff isn’t bad. Basically, get the best fresh basil you can, and that’s all there is to it.
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How To Store Pesto
If not using immediately, transfer to a sterile small jar, top with a layer of olive oil and refrigerate for up to 3 days. The addition of ½ teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice helps the basil retain its green color.
Food safety is an issue anytime garlic is immersed in an oxygen-free environment, like pesto. To avoid any potential of botulism, use or refrigerate pesto immediately and use it within 3 days.
Freezing pesto: If you are planning to freeze the pesto, there are a few modifications to the recipe.
First, make sure you blanch the fresh basil leaves. This simple process helps prevent the basil from turning brown. Simply add fresh basil to boiling water. Boil for 5-10 seconds. Remove basil and immediately plunge in an ice water bath. Place on tea towels, pat dry and proceed with the recipe.
Second, for best results, omit the addition of cheese at the time of processing your pesto. You will get a better product by adding the cheese to your pesto when it is defrosted.
Third, use the ice cube method to freeze the pesto. This allows you to drizzle a little olive oil over the top, thus preventing contact with air and preventing discoloration. When frozen, place the pesto cubes in an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag and use them within 1 month for the best quality.
How To Store Homemade Pesto
Your pesto sauce should always be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, and it will last for up to a week! If you want your pesto sauce to stay bright green, try to limit its exposure to air. You can do this by storing it in a ziploc bag and squeezing out all the air.
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Creamy Basil Pesto Sauce
Basil pesto is one of our favorite ways to top pasta and this creamy version is insanely good!
This recipe is a basic pesto with the addition of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and ricotta cheese. The cheeses add a richness that just takes pesto to a whole new level.
We love using fresh herbs which is why we are so fond of this creamy basil pesto sauce. It’s fragrant, fresh, and just plain good.
The best thing about it is you can do more with it than just mix it into pasta! Use it as a dip or topping for veggies, as a sauce for pizza, or slather it over freshly baked crusty bread.
However you choose to enjoy this creamy pesto, I’m certain you will have nothing but good things to say about it.
What To Do If You Dont Have Enough Basil
This is one of our favorite tips! You can substitute spinach for some of the basil.
There are two reasons for doing this. One is obvious: You dont have quite enough basil in your garden to make this pesto recipe, or its too expensive to buy. Add spinach to make up the difference. The other reason? Spinach can tame the flavor a bit so your pesto is just a bit milder. Just as nutritious, just as delicious, just as beautiful!
Love this idea? Try arugula pesto, too!
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Pine Nuts Or Other Nuts/seeds
Pine nuts are the traditional choice . Pine nuts are tender, buttery and high in fat, so they yield smoother, silkier pesto.
On the downside, pine nuts are prohibitively expensive. I save money by using raw almonds, walnuts, pecans or pepitas instead. Almonds are the most neutral option, so I used them for the pesto you see here. Theyre all delicious in their own way, though.
I typically toast the nuts first to really bring out their flavor and add an extra-savory edge to the pesto.
Is Pesto Bad For You
Pesto has gotten a bad rap because it contains a lot of fat from nuts, cheese, and oil. However, most of these fats are the heart-healthy kind. Plus, a little bit of pesto goes a long way to adding flavor to your favorite dishes.
In addition, some of the ingredients in pesto have other health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimers and dementia.
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What Else Can You Use Basil Pesto Sauce For Besides Pasta
- use it as a spread in sandwiches, burgers or piadina
- stir it in stews, risotto, frittatas or soups
- its great to use as a topping for pizza
- use as a spread on baked/grilled chicken or fish
- add a little more olive oil and spread it over roasted root vegetables
- mix it in a crustless quiche before baking
- add a little olive oil and vinegar to create a basil vinaigrette, great to use as a salad dressing
- combine it with mayonnaise or yogurt when making potato, seafood or pasta salads
- use as a spread when making bruschetta
and more! Just remember, the pesto we have made is much like a concentrate, so a spoonful goes a long way.
Blender Vs Food Processor
My first choice for making this pesto is with a food processor. It makes easy work and pulls everything together quickly. If you dont have a food processor then all is not lost. You can make pesto in a blender, it just takes a little extra work.
To make this pesto in a blender, pack about half the mint and parsley leaves in the bottom of the blender pitcher and add the water. Keep blending, stopping, stirring, and scraping until they are well chopped. Add more leaves and the olive oil, repeating the stopping and stirring until chopped. Add the nuts last, and be patient!
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How To Store & Freeze Pesto
Use the sauce immediately or store it in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil . It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
Pesto can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months. I suggest dividing it into the compartments of an ice cube tray and freezing. Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and put in a sealable plastic bag or airtight container. You can add the defrosted cubes to soups, pasta dishes, eggs, sandwiches, and potatoes.