How to Make Homemade Basil Pesto.
Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It’s incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.
Here is my absolute favorite recipe for homemade basil pesto. It’s classic simple, flavorful, and oh-so-fresh! Homemade basil pesto is much easier than you think and tastes worlds better than anything coming from a jar.
You’ll need a few very basic ingredients, which can be subbed for similar ingredients as noted in the recipe below. For a twist, I like to add a bit cayenne. Instead of pine nuts, I love using walnuts. See more variations below.
You’ll also need a food processor. The ingredients blend together rather easily, so if you don’t have a fancy schmancy food processor, no worries! It will still taste like pesto and it will still be remarkably good. You can’t go wrong. (Pesto is really that easy.)
I like to add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Not much, but just enough to brighten everything up and really make it stand out from other pestos I’ve had.
Basil pesto is my favorite multi-purpose sauce. Its nutty, cheesy, garlic flavor goes with… well… just about anything! Stumped for ways to use it? Here are ways I enjoy pesto.
Some serving suggestions:
- Pesto tortellini: served as a sauce over cooked tortellini with parmesan cheese and fresh diced tomatoes.
- Pesto bruschetta: bake slices of a fresh baguette in a 400°F (204°C) oven until golden. Top with pesto, parmesan cheese, and fresh diced tomatoes.
- Pesto veggie sandwich: spread pesto mixed with mayonnaise on toasted bread, add favorite cheese, greens, and tomato.
- Pesto grilled cheese: brush 2 slices thick-cut crusty bread with pesto, add provolone or cheddar, butter the outside of the bread and cook both sides on a griddle or skillet until golden brown.
- Pesto hummus: blend in 2 Tablespoons of pesto with garlic hummus. (So good.)
- Use it as a dip for crusty bread.
- Serve over meats or shrimp.
- Or P-I-Z-Z-A!
(You have to try this roasted garlic chicken & mozzarella pizza with pesto recipe. Talk about flavor!)
Do you like pesto? What are ways you enjoy it?
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Homemade Basil Pesto
Here is how I make classic basil pesto at home. It's incredibly simple and flavorful, while only using a handful of fresh ingredients.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves1
- 1/3 cup pine nuts2
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional but recommended)
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper
- Blend the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Pour oil in slowly while still mixing (or a little at a time, then mix, then more oil, then mix again, etc). Scrape down the sides, then add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively smooth. Taste and add more salt/pepper if desired.
- Make ahead/storing: Store leftover pesto in a jar, tightly seal, and refrigerate for up to a week. Freeze the pesto for up to 2-3 months. You can freeze it in greased ice cube trays and thaw small portions at a time.
- Instead of basil, try other greens like spinach or arugula.
- Instead of pine nuts, I love using walnuts. You can also try pecans, pistachios, or almonds. For a nut-free pesto, try edamame, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds.
Other tasty pesto variations: try adding your favorite herbs like cilantro, mint, or parsley. Add your favorite spices like cayenne, ground ginger, or paprika. Or add a dash of your favorite hot sauce.
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