Discover the simplicity and exceptional flavor of the easiest homemade pesto recipe. With just a handful of ingredients and minimal effort, you can create a delightful sauce that will elevate your dishes to new levels.
Experience the fresh taste of basil, the creamy notes of Parmesan cheese, the satisfying crunch of pine nuts, and the subtle warmth of garlic, all blended into a versatile sauce that adds a burst of flavor to any meal!
With the abundant growth of basil in the garden, it's a clear sign that it's time to prepare homemade basil pesto from scratch. The versatility of pesto allows you to infuse an array of dishes with an explosion of flavors.
Use it as a basting sauce for grilled chicken, incorporate it into pasta dishes, or drizzle it over your sourdough pizza crust to experience an extraordinary burst of flavor that will truly elevate your meals.
Ingredients needed for homemade pesto
- fresh basil: Before you begin, ensure that you have multiple bunches of fresh basil, as it is the star ingredient in this recipe. Prior to use, it is essential to wash and thoroughly dry the basil leaves.
- fresh garlic: Fresh garlic plays another prominent role in this pesto recipe, enhancing the overall flavor profile. Its addition adds a delightful boost to the taste, making it an essential ingredient alongside the fresh basil.
- pine nuts: While pine nuts are the traditional choice for pesto, you have the flexibility to explore other nut options such as walnuts or cashews. Feel free to experiment and select the nut that best suits your taste and preferences for this versatile sauce.
- parmesan cheese: Parmesan cheese imparts a depth of flavor and adds a touch of saltiness to the pesto, creating a well-rounded taste that complements the other ingredients. Its presence in the recipe is important for achieving the desired flavor profile of the traditional pesto.
- extra virgin olive oil: For optimal results, use high-quality extra virgin olive oil in this recipe. The use of good olive oil enhances the overall flavor profile, ensuring a superior outcome.
- lemon juice: The addition of lemon juice to the pesto brings a welcomed acidity that helps to balance the flavors.
- salt and pepper
How to make homemade basil pesto
Say goodbye to store-bought options and experience the satisfaction of creating your own delicious basil pesto right in your own kitchen!
Step 1: Prepare the basil
Begin by washing the basil leaves and using a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture. Then, lay the leaves on a baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel. Take an additional clean towel and gently press down on the basil leaves to help the drying process of the basil.
Step 2: Process dry ingredients
In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process the ingredients until they begin to form a paste, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the processor to ensure even blending.
Step 3: Add olive oil
With the processor running, pour the extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube and process until incorporated.
After preparing the pesto, take a moment to taste it and make any necessary adjustments to the seasonings according to your preference.
TIP: Should you find the pesto to be a tad "heavy" in flavor, simply incorporate an additional tablespoon of lemon juice. The acidity of the lemon juice works wonders in brightening up the overall taste, providing a refreshing and vibrant touch to the pesto.
Once satisfied with the flavors, transfer the pesto into a container that has a securely fitting lid. This will help preserve its freshness and allow for convenient storage.
No basil? No problem! Don't fret if you find yourself without basil because you can still whip up a delicious homemade pesto using a range of alternative ingredients that might already be in your refrigerator.
- instead of basil - Instead of using basil, consider incorporating a leafy green such as spinach or kale as an alternative base for your pesto. Additionally, for added flavor and versatility, you can experiment with including a variety of fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, or mint, depending on the specific dish you are preparing. This allows for a delightful range of flavors to complement whatever you're making for dinner.
- instead of pine nuts - Instead of the traditional pine nuts, feel free to explore alternative options such as walnuts, pistachios, almonds, or sunflower seeds when preparing your pesto. These alternative nuts and seeds offer unique flavors and textures that can add a delightful twist to your pesto recipe. Don't be afraid to experiment and find the perfect combination that suits your taste preferences.
Equipment needed to make pesto at home
To simplify the process of preparing homemade pesto, a blender or a small food processor (affiliate link) can be used with great ease.
Alternatively, if you prefer the traditional approach, a mortar, and pestle (affiliate link) can be employed to crush and blend the ingredients together.
Both methods yield excellent results, allowing you to choose the technique that suits your preference and equipment availability.
How to store homemade pesto
For storing pesto that won't be used immediately, we recommend pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto in the jar.
Cover the jar and refrigerate it, allowing the olive oil to create a protective layer that helps keep the pesto fresh for up to 3 weeks.
When ready to use, simply tilt the jar to the side to expose the pesto, and use a spoon to extract the desired amount. This storage method ensures convenient access to the pesto while maintaining its freshness.
Freezing basil pesto is a great option for preserving its freshness. Simply pour the pesto into ice cube trays and allow them to freeze completely.
Once frozen, transfer the pesto cubes into a freezer-safe bag, ensuring they are properly sealed. This allows you to store the frozen pesto for up to 6 months.
Having a stash of frozen pesto in your freezer provides a convenient solution for whipping up a quick pasta dinner when you're short on time.
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More easy homemade pantry recipes
We love to make anything we can from scratch instead of buying it at the store. Here are a few recipes you can easily make yourself!
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil (see notes)
- Wash the basil leaves. Place them into a salad spinner to help remove excess moisture. Spread the leaves onto a baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel. Use another clean towel to gently press down on the basil leaves to help dry the basil completely.
- Process the basil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor until it starts to form a paste, scraping down the sides a few times.
- With the processor running, pour the oil through the feed tube and process until incorporated. Taste the pesto and adjust seasonings if desired. Pour the pesto into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
- If you are not using the pesto right away, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto before placing into the refrigerator. This will create a layer of protection to keep the pesto fresh for up to 3 weeks. To use, tilt the jar to the side to expose the pesto and use a spoon to remove the amount needed.