Homemade Basil Pesto

As the temps dip here in Minnesota, I am reminded of this timeless recipe that everyone needs in their kitchen repertoire. I tend to forget about it until the bounty of the late summer arrives. Okay, let’s be honest, the dang snow is coming and my basil outside is in danger! Homemade Basil Pesto is a perennial favorite and if you make enough you can keep on enjoying all winter long.

Ingredients needed for Basil Pesto Recipe

Fresh Basil Leaves You can buy basil in the store, at most farmers’ markets, or grow it your self in your actual ground or in a pot. Super easy girlfriend! Clip all of the leaves off of the stems and wash them gently in water.

Pine Nuts This variety of nut is now widely available at most grocery stores. They are rich in taste and high in fat, so they create a super smooth sauce. Moreover, they are even better when they are lightly toasted. More details below. You can also use other nut varieties. Be creative; try walnuts, raw almonds, pecans or pepitas.

Parmesan Cheese Buy a chunk and grate it for the most delicious flavor. You can also buy fresh parmigiana in some delicatessen departments, already grated in a bag or tub. This will not be as flavorful but it will definitely still taste great!

Fresh Whole Garlic Cloves Be sure to buy the fresh garlic bulbs for this. You do not need to mince ahead of time because your food processor will do all the work for you. Superfast whiplash. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Be sure to use a good-quality oil to give your basil pesto the best flavor.

Salt and Black Pepper Taste as you season to get it just right for you. Don’t be shy about seasoning your pesto with lots of S and P.

How to Toast Pine Nuts

Toast the pine nuts until they are a beautiful light golden brown. See below for the 3 options for toasting pinenuts.

Stovetop Method for Toasting Nuts

In a dry, medium skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat on your stovetop. I like to do it this way so that I can watch closely. This takes roughly 3 to 5 minutes. Stir constantly and watch closely. They can burn easily! Been there. Done that. They are ready when they are golden brown and fragrant. Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the hot pan from continuing to cook them.

Toast pine nuts in the Oven

To toast the pine nuts in the oven, preheat oven to 350°. Place the nuts on a baking sheet, flip and stir about halfway through baking. They are ready when they are golden brown, approximately 5–7 minutes. Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the hot pan from continuing to cook them.

Use your microwave to toast pine nuts

Spread the pine nuts on a microwave-safe plate in a single layer. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Toss around and microwave again in 30-second intervals. Stir constantly to balance out the heat. Keep on checking. They are ready when they are golden brown.

Recipes Made with Basil Pesto Sauce

There are so many delicious recipes you need to try that use pestos of all kinds. Salads, all kinds of pasta, and spreads, oh my! I will be adding some of my favorites to the blog soon. Below is a simple angel hair pasta, with the bright and delicious addition of grape tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella slices.
homemade basil pesto with angel hair pasta in a white bowl

For the low carb folks (me!🖐🏼), the dish below is literally the same recipe, but for the base I used Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi. You could also use zucchini noodles (zoodles) to make it healthy, low carb and gluten-free. Did I mention fast and yummy too?

HOW TO MAKE PESTO SAUCE:

Here’s the step by step instructions to make a batch of homemade basil pesto. Easy peezy.

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homemade basil recipe in a white bowl

Homemade Basil Pesto

  • Author: Cindy Munson
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Blending
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

The best, time tested classic and delicious recipe for homemade basil pesto! Save this one, you’ll use it for years to come.


Scale

Ingredients

1/4 cup pine nuts or other nut variety
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh basil no stems
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste


Instructions

Toast the pine nuts in a pan, the oven or microwave. (see notes) Transfer to the food processor immediately to cool. Add parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and garlic. Blend until finely ground. Add fresh basil pulse again.
While your food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides as you go. Blend until everything is smooth and nicely combined, leave some flecks of basil for beauty! If your mixture is too thick, you can thin it out with more olive oil if necessary.

Taste test your pesto creation. Adjust seasonings to your personal preferences, with extra salt or pepper. You can also throw in a bit more Parm, basil or garlic to get the consistency and flavor just right.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container. To store, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation and browning. Cover the top of the container with plastic wrap. Press gently on the surface to remove air. Refrigerate. Keeps well for up to 1 week. You can also freeze pesto sauce in an ice cube tray or in spoonfuls on a tray. Transfer to a freezer bag once frozen. Thaw the exact portion you need later on.


Keywords: Pesto, alla genovese, sauce, Italian, Italy, crushed garlic, pine nuts, basil leaves, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parmesan, cheese, olive oil

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If you try this homemade basil pesto yourself, please let me know in the comments below. Or if you share a picture, please tag me @bebraveandbloom or #bloomwithwellness.

Bon Appétit!
xo,
Cindy

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4 Comments
  • Heidi
    Posted at 18:47h, 31 October Reply

    Delicious!!! Will keep this recipe!

    • cindy munson
      Posted at 20:31h, 31 October Reply

      Thanks Heidi! I’m glad you enjoyed it.😃

  • Lindsey
    Posted at 02:37h, 03 November Reply

    Great flavor and easy to make..

    • cindy munson
      Posted at 02:48h, 03 November Reply

      I agree, it’s a keeper. Thanks for trying Lindsey!☺️

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