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Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto is so easy to make, can be frozen for later use, and allows you to make good use of a bountiful basil crop. 

Basil pesto is one of the most common pestos out there, and for a good reason. It’s tasty, simple to make, and goes with tons of traditional Italian dishes! Originally from Genoa, pesto can be used on pasta, in soups and stews, and as a dipping sauce for breadsticks. Pesto is made almost exclusively with fresh basil leaves. You can easily grow your own basil plants by either buying seeds or seedlings at the local garden center.

Basil pesto is a great plant-based alternative to cream sauce. For this reason, it makes an ideal substitute in certain dishes that call for such items.

Although not all basil pesto recipes use olive oil as their base, for this particular dish, I am using extra virgin olive oil. I highly encourage you to make your own homemade pesto instead of buying it from the store.

The great thing about making your own pesto sauce from scratch is that you have complete control over what goes into it. Store-bought pesto usually has preservatives and stabilizers, which is why it can be sold in the small jars that you typically find in the store.

The Parmesan cheese adds an assertive flavor to this pesto recipe and helps to turn it from a spicy green sauce into something more substantial that can be served with a meal or as an appetizer along with bread or crackers. And if you’re a vegan, don’t worry because this recipe works great without cheese.

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Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto is so easy to make, can be frozen for later use, and allows you to make good use of a bountiful basil crop.

  • Author: Norann Oleson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Sides & Sauces

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, packed in the cup (not loose)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Place basil leaves and nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse five to six times.
  2. Add the garlic and cheese to the bowl and pulse 3-4 times; use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides back into the bowl.
  3. While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, allowing it to emulsify and not separate. Pause, as needed, to scrape the sides of the food-processor’s bowl—to get ingredients back together.
  4. Stir in salt and pepper; add more to taste.

Notes

Pesto can be used for all sorts of things—on pasta, mixed with vegetables, as a spread on crackers or bread, or even in a sandwich—or how about this, try drizzling pesto over your breakfast eggs.

Basil is one of the most essential herbs and can be found in just about every kitchen. With The Basil Grower’s Gardening Guide, you’ll have everything you need to know about growing and enjoying this versatile herb. Check it out.

Have you tried this pesto recipe? It’s so easy and so fresh—please tell us how you use pesto. What dishes to you pair with pesto?

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