Homemade Basil Pesto
My homemade recipe for traditional basil pesto. Pesto Genovese or classic basil pesto is delicious on EVERYTHING!
Keepin’ it simple for the midweek recipes. ✌️
And nothing is easier (or tastier) than traditional homemade pesto. This is my favorite recipe for it, and I don’t take my pesto lightly. It took some time for me to perfect my pesto and bring on my ‘A’ game. But the whole process was so worth it when I added in a dollop to my mediterranean pasta salad and it tasted BETTER than the restaurant I was inspired by. And hey! hello! Breakfast pizza with eggs and pesto genovese makes me wanna JUMP out of bed. ???
It’s a classic basil pesto with ingredients like pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, basil, lemon juice — and lemon zest. Never used lemon zest in your pesto before? It’s not an ingredient you’ll find in many other basil pesto recipes. But boy, oh boy does the lemon zest really help brighten that pesto right up. A whole new depth of flavor is just waiting to be unlocked.
My friend, can we talk about those teeny tiny jars of basil pesto we tell ourselves we NEED for around $5 and, if you are anything like me, are gone in under 2 days. This recipe will make you a TON for that same price and it allows you to control what goes in. I like to grab those organic basil boxes at Trader Joe’s and use those to make my pesto. And who doesn’t love the fact that there are ZERO preservatives? Even if you aren’t too particular about that sort of thing, it’s a good feeling to know EXACTLY what’s in your food.
Speaking of food, have you tried those cashew clusters from Costco? Holy guacamole! I couldn’t believe what my mouth was experiencing. Cashews, almonds, and pumpkin seeds all rolled around in a honey-like flavor and crunchy to the maxx. Gah! I swear I dreamt about them last night. ?
But back to the point. Not only is this recipe simple, it’s also quick to pull together. All you really need is a food processor so you can blend everything together. Sometimes I like to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to help build more flavor in my basil pesto, but this is entirely up to you and it’s not an ingredient you have to use.
There are countless ways to use homemade pesto at home but just for fun i’ll name a few:
- BREAKFAST PIZZA!
- Secret Ingredient Tomato Basil Soup (I guess you know the secret ingredient now!)
- Pasta salads
- Grilled meats (instead of chimichurri sauce)
- Roasted chicken (just swap the chimichurri sauce for pesto)
- Minestrone Soup (tomato basil pesto is one of my secret ingredients for the soup but you can certainly swap it out for traditional pesto if you’ve got that on hand.
- Parmesan Basil Tomato Soup
- Add it into my classic hummus recipe
Okay, so go make this pesto because Fri-yay, i’m sharing a recipe with it that you have go to make.
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves, slightly packed
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)
- 2 teaspoons (2 cloves) minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- OPTIONAL: pinch of red pepper flakes
- Add the basil leaves, parmesan cheese, minced galric, lemon zest, pine nuts, lemon juice and, if using, red pepper flakes to a blender or food processor. Blend continuously until the ingredients start to breakdown. If you prefer a more coarse pesto, use the pulse setting. Stream in the olive oil and allow the ingredients to emulsify with the oil. You want to continue processing until the oil is combined with the basil and your other ingredients. Taste the pesto, add additional garlic or parmesan to preference.
- STORING: Store the pesto in a small container (where the pesto fits all the way to the top and press to reduce air pockets. Homemade pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also pour the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze. Remember to transfer the frozen pesto to a zip top bag once frozen.
- You can replace the pine nuts with cashews or almonds for a more economical option.