Making a batch of fresh pesto is something that I look forward to each summer. Basil is a potted herb that is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. The last several years, I have purchased my basil starter-plant from Trader Joe’s. They are organic and always do so well in my backyard. In fact, by mid-July the plant starts to seed and needs to be trimmed back… or in my case, trimmed to make pesto.
Store-bought pesto can be great, but in my opinion there is nothing quite like homemade pesto. The blend between the garlic, fresh basil, pine nuts, salt, cheese, and olive oil are all flavors I begin to crave as the temps warm up outside. The best part is that it can be made in less than 10 minutes!
What you need to know:
For this recipe, it is best to use a food processor, but a blender could also work to achieve the same result. While this recipe only calls for a few ingredients, I want to provide you with some key tips before making this recipe. Let’s break them down…
- Make sure you pick or buy the freshest basil you can find to ensure the richest flavors. An alternative to growing basil is buying it fresh from your local farmers market. You’ll want to remove all the stems from the leaves before adding the basil to the food processor.
- Olive oil. This is an ingredient that most people already have on hand. I would recommend using a better quality olive oil for this recipe for the best flavor. My favorite brand olive oil is Paesano. I found this brand in an Italian market in Pittsburgh and have used it ever since. I sometimes stumble upon bottles in Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Homegoods, otherwise you can order from Amazon.
- Is there anything better than freshly-grated Parmesan cheese? I don’t know about you, but this is an ingredient I always have on hand. You never know when you’ll need a little extra Parmesan grated on top. If all you have is shredded Parmesan cheese, that will work took, but I would not use the plastic bottled Parmesan cheese for this high quality recipe.
- Pesto is usually made with pine nuts or walnuts, but if you have a tree allergy you can replace with sunflower seeds. I always use pine nuts bought in bulk from Costco.
- If you’re following the theme here, the key to making the best pesto, is to buy the freshest ingredients. That goes for the garlic too. While many of us have jars of minced garlic in our fridge, fresh garlic tastes much better in this type of recipe.
How to make Pesto:
Add all dry ingredients to the food processor. Pulse 3-4 times until a course mixture forms.
Slowly start pouring olive oil in the top of the food processor while pulsing until fully incorporated. Once all olive oil has been added, puree for about 20 seconds to ensure all ingredients are evenly blended. Give it a quick taste and add any extra salt to taste.
Serve immediately or place in containers for storing.
Before storing in the refrigerator, I always top off the fresh pesto with some olive oil to help prevent it from getting too much exposure to air and turning brown.
Pesto is stored best in a small bowl or glass jar with plastic wrap over the top touching the top of the pesto.
You can also freeze pesto and thaw you before you are ready to use. This is a great way to fulfill those summer flavors in the dead of winter.
Some of my favorite ways to eat pesto are on a caprese salad, Margarita pizza, cauliflower gnocchi, or with zoodles. Leave a comment and let me know how you like to eat pesto!
Homemade Basil Pesto
- Food Processor
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp salt
- Combine basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a
food processor. Pulse a few times until a course mixture forms.
- Slowly pour 1/4 cup olive oil into the top of the food processor and pulse while slowly adding the remaining olive oil. Mix until evenly incorporated.
- Store in air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
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