Homemade Basil Pesto
Originally published July 9, 2013. Updated on 6/16/2021
With summer in full swing, it's time for all the fresh, homemade basil pesto we can handle! To fully take advantage of the fresh basil season, I present you with my pesto recipe!
Or, you know ... just snarfed with a spoon or on crackers.
We may be just a little addicted, here!
If you have access to a lot of basil, I recommend doubling or tripling (or more!) this recipe.
When in doubt, just know that it freezes very well - spoon into small freezer bags, push the air out, and seal.
On the other hand, if you’re buying basil at a grocery store and find obscenely expensive at the time, this recipe is easily halved.
Pesto is made from very few ingredients, but they’re important! A few thoughts on them:
Use fresh, ideally unblemished leaves. Cut off all of the stems before measuring the leaves.
Ideally, you’ll use a chunk of Parmesan that you grate yourself.
Pre-shredded Parmesan is acceptable also... just don’t use the fine crumble stuff you see on tables at pizza restaurants!
I like to use a lightly coloured/flavoured olive oil, to not overpower the basil flavour.
Also, you can add a little more if you like, depending on your use. As-is, this is great as a spread, or tossed in pasta.
If you’re tossing it on popcorn or dipping bread in it, a little more olive oil will thin it out a bit.
If you’re mixing your pesto into a dough that needs to be rolled out thinly - such just as *in* a pasta dough - I recommend skipping the pine nuts, as they tend to tear the dough when rolled out.
I love pine nuts, I just wish they didn’t cost so much.
Toasting them is optional, I love the roasty flavour it gives them, though.
It might be overkill, but I like to use my Garlic Press before adding the garlic to the food processor, just to ensure it’s *finely* chopped and well distrubuted.
As written, this is a very basic, standard, traditional pesto. Don’t let that stop you from playing with it, though.
Here are a few ways I’ve varied my pestos:
- Swap Basil Leaves for spinach or kale. We especially love this as a pasta sauce.
- Swap Parmesan Cheese for Asiago, Romano, or any other flavourful hard white cheese.
- Olive Oil can be swapped out for avocado oil.
- Pine Nuts can be swapped out in favour of almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts. Chop them up a bit before adding them to the food processor, though!
Mix and match these subs to come up with something perfect for you - or what you have on hand!
How to Make Basil Pesto
Actual recipe is at the end of this post, but here’s a pictorial overview for those who like visuals.
If necessary, wash and dry your basil leaves. Set aside.
Measure pine nuts into a nonstick pan. Toast over medium heat - stirring frequently - until lightly browned and aromatic.
Measure basil, garlic, cheese, and oil into a food processor, blitz until basil is rough chopped.
Add pine nuts, blitz until basil and pine nuts are finely chopped.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer to an air tight container, store in fridge.
A Note on Oxidation
Pesto will darken/brown if exposed to air.
If your container has a lot of head space, press some plastic wrap against the pesto before securing the lid.
Alternately, you can spray the top generously with olive oil, or cover with a thin layer of poured olive oil.
More Seasoning & Condiment Recipes
Looking for some tasty ways to add a little something extra to your dish? Here are a few ideas:
Canadian Popcorn Seasonings
Diana Sauces (Replica Recipes)
Homemade Hop Extracts
Homemade Seasoned Salt
Honey Dill Dipping Sauce
Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce
Hoppy Dill Pickle Relish
How to Make Compound Butters
Montreal Steak Spice & Marinade
Porter's Yogurt & Ice Cream Topping
Roasted Beet Ketchup
Smoky Dry Rub for Wings
Sushi Sauce Recipes
Tangerine Thyme Dry Rub
Thai Cilantro Pesto
Share the Love!
Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense.
Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Homemade Basil Pesto
- 5 cups Packed Fresh Basil Leaves
- 1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 cup Olive Oil
- ½ cup Pine Nuts
- 8 Garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- If necessary, wash and dry your basil leaves. Set aside.
- Measure pine nuts into a nonstick pan. Toast over medium heat - stirring frequently - until lightly browned and aromatic.
- Measure basil, garlic, cheese, and oil into a food processor, blitz until basil is rough chopped.
- Add pine nuts, blitz until basil and pine nuts are finely chopped.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Transfer to an air tight container, store in fridge.