Fresh homemade basil pesto is vibrant, colourful, flavourful and extremely easy to make at home with just a handful of ingredients and in just 5 minutes. Once you try homemade, you might never go back to store-bought pesto again. Stir it into a big bowl of pasta or serve it on just about anything from meat to bread.
Adding pesto to pasta makes for a super quick and easy dinner, like Pesto Penne Pasta or Avocado Basil Pesto Spaghetti. You can also add it to many other dishes including pizza, sandwiches, salad, or meat and vegetables to give your meal and instant fresh flavour that just can't be replicated with store-bought pesto. It's fresh, herby, garlicky and just so delicious. So make lots because pesto also freezes well.
To make basil pesto, you need to gather the following ingredients:
- fresh basil leaves
- pine nuts - you can also substitute with most other nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds, pepitas, cashews, walnuts, or peanuts. The flavour will be different but still delicious.
- Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- lemon juice
- extra virgin olive oil - use high quality olive oil for the best flavour and results.
You will also need measuring cups and spoons and a food processor. You could use a blender instead but the consistency will not be the same. Traditionally, pesto is made in a mortar and pestle, but you can replicate the texture and consistency well with a food processor.
How to Make the Best Basil Pesto
Homemade basil pesto is so easy to make in just a couple of steps:
- Combine ingredients. In a food processor, add basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan. Pulse mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Then, add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Add in olive oil. Slowly pour in olive oil while mixing on low speed until fully combined. You can stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor occasionally to help mix evenly.
- Serve. Transfer the pesto sauce into a bowl and serve immediately. You can serve with extra olive oil on top.
How to Use Homemade Basil Pesto
You can use homemade basil pesto in so many ways:
- Pasta - homemade pesto is most commonly used as a pasta sauce that can be mixed into any kind of pasta or zucchini noodles.
- Pizza - use it as a topping on your favourite pizza.
- Sandwiches - spread it onto a sandwich or grilled cheese to instantly elevate the flavour.
- Meat - use it as a marinade or a sauce and drizzle over your favourite piece of steak, roasted chicken, or fish.
- Vegetables - drizzle it over roasted vegetables.
- Salad - use it a dressing and add it to your favourite salad.
- Dip - serve it as is, as a dip or spread it over some toasted crostini or other crusty bread.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
- How to store: Store basil pesto sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- How to freeze: Store basil pesto in an airtight container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can also portion out the pesto into an ice cube mold and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag.
More Italian Recipes
- Creamy White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
- Tomato Bruschetta with Balsamic Glaze
- Avocado Basil Pesto Spaghetti
- Whipped Ricotta Dip
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Cheesy Tortellini and Sausage Bake
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