Basil and pesto recipe | Mediterranean dish
This basil pesto recipe is much more flavorful than store-bought and easy to make. Grab fresh basil, pine nuts (or walnuts), garlic, Parmesan, and high-quality extra virgin olive oil and it’ll be ready in 10 minutes. Make them ahead, refrigerate or freeze them, and keep them on hand for pesto recipes throughout the week – I’ve included all my favorites!
Basil pesto is traditionally made from ground fresh basil with pine nuts, aged cheese, and olive oil in a mortar and pestle. It gets its name from “pestare”, the Italian word for “to pound” or “to crush”.
I’ve tweaked the traditional recipe with a few tricks to keep the pesto’s vibrant green color and fresh, aromatic flavor longer. A quick blanching in boiling water and a squeeze of lemon juice means this sauce will keep in your fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 6 months! And I prepare it in a food processor or blender, so you just press a button.
Although this pesto recipe is certainly easy, it has the same richness that makes pesto one of the most popular Italian sauces of all time. I use it all day! Fry eggs in pesto sauce for a healthy and delicious breakfast. For lunch, spread it on eggplant Parmesan sandwiches. For dinner, pesto pasta, creamy chicken pesto pasta, baked pesto sea bass, and pesto chicken are ready in less than 30 minutes! All you really need to enjoy good pesto is some good crusty bread.
table of contents
- Basil pesto ingredients
- How to make basil pesto
- How to store basil pesto
- Can you freeze basil pesto?
- How to Serve Basil Pesto
- Our top four favorite ways to use pesto
- Try Italian extra virgin olive oil
- Basil Pesto Recipe
Basil pesto ingredients
This easy basil pesto recipe uses only a handful of ingredients to make a simple sauce with lots of depth and richness. As with any recipe that uses only a few ingredients, you’ll want each one to be fresh and delicious.
- basil: Fresh basil and high-quality olive oil are the two biggest differences between homemade pesto and store-bought pesto. Get the freshest basil you can find with only slight signs of sagging or browning. Try to fill both cups with the smaller, tenderer leaves for the best flavour. If you’re not making pesto the same day you go shopping, check out my tips on how to store fresh basil to make it last.
- garlic: Increase the garlic to your liking, but 1-2 cloves usually give enough flavor without overpowering the delicate qualities of the basil.
- Nuts: Buttery, creamy Pine They are more traditional if you can swing them, but I know they can be expensive. Walnuts It also works well and is more economical. Roast them in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. Watch closely because the nuts burn easily!
- Lemon: Lemon juice adds brightness and prevents the basil from turning brown.
- olive oil: With so few ingredients, olive oil has a huge impact on the taste of pesto. High-quality extra virgin olive oil is another opportunity to dramatically improve your pesto! Use a smooth but full-flavored olive oil. I love the bold, buttery Italian Nocellara. For a complete guide to buying pesto, see our guide: Olive Oil 101: Everything You Need to Know.
- Parmesan: Parmesan cheese adds a deep umami quality that makes pesto irresistible. Get the whole blocks (rather than pre-grated parm) as they tend to be of much higher quality and fuller flavour.
- spices: Only kosher pesto is used salt And black Pepper To enhance flavour. Add a pinch of salt and adjust from there, as Parmesan naturally adds saltiness.
How to make basil pesto
This basil pesto recipe is made in a food processor or blender, so it comes together in just 10 minutes or so. All you need is a quick blanching and a squeeze of lemon to keep the basil’s vibrant green colour. To prepare basil pesto:
How to store basil pesto
To store the pesto, transfer it to a glass jar and cover it with a layer of olive oil (this will “seal” it and prevent it from browning when exposed to air). Close tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. To use, just scoop out the oil. Be sure to replenish the top layer with extra virgin olive oil to keep it airtight (always use a clean spoon and return it to the fridge).
Can you freeze basil pesto?
Yes! You can freeze pesto for up to 6 months and thaw it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it. Here are two ways to freeze pesto:
- In a freezer safe container. Cover with a layer of extra virgin olive oil and freeze. I do this when I plan to use the entire batch in a pasta dish.
- In ice cube trays. If you want to be able to use a little pesto at a time, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for an hour or until firm, then transfer the cubes to freezer bags.
How to Serve Basil Pesto
Basil pesto is a real workhorse in the kitchen. It’s easy to make, keeps well, and just one tablespoon instantly adds an herbaceous, creamy, and umami-rich flavor. Keep pesto on hand for quick and delicious meals throughout the week!
Make yourself a 5-minute snack with toast, tomato slices, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a spoonful of pesto. Or use it as a dip for crusty bread. Rosemary focaccia with roasted garlic still warm from the oven and tossed in homemade pesto is a simple luxury that reminds me why I love Mediterranean food.
For a complete meal:
- Served with fish. Spoon a teaspoon over grilled salmon, sea bass or papillote to add an elegant flair to your weekend dinner.
- Toss with pasta. All you need is a packet of pasta and some pesto, but you can easily garnish with tomatoes and mozzarella, ravioli and peas, or broccoli and lemon.
- Served with chicken. Pesto chicken and vegetables will be on your table in 20 minutes with this make-ahead weekend recipe.
- Use it as a sandwich. Make a Mediterranean style grilled cheese on pita bread with mozzarella, feta, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto. Or make an open-faced eggplant parmesan sandwich.
- To liven up a vegetarian dinner. Cook chickpeas in a creamy pesto sauce for a convenient, quick, and filling vegetarian meal. Or make light vegetable stuffed peppers with basil vinaigrette.
- Start your morning right. Fry eggs in basil pesto and enjoy them with crusty bread.
It’s the perfect choice for your next batch of pesto. Soft, buttery, and full of flavor!
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- get ready: Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water and place it near the stove. Set up a food processor using the included blade (or plug in your blender and you’re ready).
Boil basil briefly: Drop the basil leaves into the boiling water and let them wilt for 5 to 10 seconds. Use tongs to transfer the basil leaves to the prepared ice water. This prevents them from continuing to cook.
Dry basil well: Wrap the basil in paper towels. Squeeze to extract all the water and transfer to a food processor, along with the garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice.
Mixing: Pulse until everything breaks down into small pieces. With the processor running on low, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Don’t run the processor for too long, you want to get a little texture to the basil pesto.
Stir in Parmesan: Transfer basil mixture to a small bowl. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper as desired. Mix to combine. If the pesto seems thicker or less smooth than you prefer, add a little extra virgin olive oil.
Service or storage: Use immediately or store for later (see Notes below for storage tips).
- Toast nuts Bake in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. Watch closely because the nuts burn easily!
- storage: Transfer the pesto to a mason jar. Cover with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil (this creates a seal and prevents air from getting to it). Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to two weeks. As you use up some pesto over time, be sure to replenish the thin layer of extra virgin olive oil on top.
- Freezes: Freeze them in an airtight, freezer-safe container with a thin layer of olive oil on top for up to 6 months. Or, if you want to freeze it in smaller quantities, pour the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once the pesto cubes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag.
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Calories: 93CaloriesCarbohydrates: 1gprotein: 1.4gfat: 9.6gSaturated fat: 1.6gUnsaturated fats: 1.7gMonounsaturated fats: 5.7gCholesterol: 2.7mgsodium: 55mgPotassium: 33.7mgFiber: 0.2gsugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 186.2international unitVitamin C: 1.2mgCalcium: 33.9mgiron: 0.3mg