How to Make Basil Pesto from Scratch — Homemade, Fresh and Tasty!
This versatile, no-cook sauce can be enjoyed with many of your favorite pasta, fish, chicken, soup, or vegetable recipes. And learning how to make basil pesto from scratch is a lot easier than you might think.
If you grow basil in your summer garden, in your windowsill all year long, or even in your AeroGarden like we have–you will probably be looking for new recipes to use up your bountiful basil crop. Basil grows really well when trimmed properly. It can be a garden gift that keeps on giving.
Basil is an herb that is essential for so many wonderful recipes, from pasta to pizza, to soup and beyond.
Once you familiarize yourself with basil, you’ll find it hard to walk past a live basil plant in the produce section of your grocery store without stopping to take a big inhalation of this gloriously scented herb.
What is Pesto?
Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, Italy. There traditional preparation is comprised of of crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, chopped basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, and olive oil.
Over time it has achieved widespread popularity and is now a common household name. Recently pesto has come to be a term used for all sorts of cold sauces or dips, many without any of the original ingredients.
Variations are made using walnuts, pecans, cashews or even peanuts as substitutes for the traditional pine nuts. There are even vegan versions of pesto that include fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil mixed with miso paste and nutritional yeast instead of cheeses.
Basil pesto is such a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes. And we think you will really love all of these favorite recipes with pesto.
Most modern recipes, including this one, call for making pesto with a food processor to combine the ingredients. This method works well, but produces a very homogenized final result.
For a more rustic and traditional approach, try hand-chopping the individual ingredients.
The individual components will be less uniform, resulting in more distinct individual flavors among bites. A mortar and pestle also works nicely for making pesto the old fashioned way.
One Tip for Storing Fresh Basil Pesto
Freeze your leftover homemade basil pesto in ice cube trays covered with a layer of olive oil. This ice cube size is a perfect portion to add to any number of recipes.
Once frozen, remove the “pesto cubes” from the ice trays and store in freezer-safe plastic bags for future use in soups or stews. You will love the added flavor!
How To Make Basil Pesto From Scratch Step By Step
Step #1: Remove basil leaves from stems, then wash and pat dry.
Step #2: Add basil, pine nuts, and peeled garlic gloves to food processor or blender. Quickly pulse until barely combined.
Step #3: Then add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and blend thoroughly.
Step #4: Transfer to a medium glass bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil to achieve the desired consistency.
Step #5: Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- 2 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2–3 garlic cloves, peeled (amount based on personal taste and strength of garlic variety used).
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Remove basil leaves from stems, then wash and pat dry.
- Add basil, pine nuts, and peeled garlic gloves to food processor or blender. Quickly pulse until barely combined.
- Then add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and blend thoroughly.
- Transfer to a medium glass bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil to achieve the desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.