Classic Basil Pesto Recipe
Homemade pesto is surprisingly easy and inexpensive to make and fresh tastes so much better than storebought. We keep a steady supply of this fantastic sauce in the fridge and freezer since it stores really well.
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Basil Pesto Recipe
Try this homemade basil pesto recipe, you’ll never want the store-bought stuff again! Freshly made sauce is so vibrant in color and flavor. The lemon juice here keeps the color beautiful and adds fresh flavor without needing too much salt.
All you need is a handful of simple ingredients, a food processor, and a few minutes of spare time to get the best pesto sauce you’ve ever had!
What Is Pesto Sauce?
I’m sure you’ve seen pesto placed in the menus of any Italian restaurant or trendy pizza shop you’ve been to, but what really is it? Pesto is basically a bright green sauce that is made from crushing together basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. It’s a sauce that originated in Italy, with the term pesto deriving from an Italian verb “pestare” which means “to crush”. It was originally made using a Mortar and Pestle.
Ingredients for Basil Pesto:
Most of the ingredients needed for this recipe are things you probably already have on hand. Just pick up some fresh basil leaves the day you want to make the sauce.
- Fresh basil leaves
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pine nuts (or walnuts)
- Garlic Cloves
- Lemon juice
- Salt & Pepper
Can I substitute the Pine Nuts?
While traditional pesto sauce is made with pine nuts, you can certainly replace the pine nuts with a less expensive nut such as walnuts, or blanched almonds.
What Type of Basil Should I Use?
There are many varieties of basil. A few of the most popular include, Italian large leaf, sweet basil, Thai, and lemon.
Any of these can be used for pesto but each has a slightly different flavor profile. For a traditional basil pesto flavor, you’ll want to use the Italian large leaf. It’s the basil leaf that most people typically think of as “normal” basil. For a sweeter pesto use the sweet basil leaves. For a slight spicy kick, try the Thai, and if you like a little hint of lemon, definitely try lemon basil.
Most grocery stores will only sell one type of basil, so if you want to try the less common types, check your local farmers market or specialty produce shop.
How to Make Basil Pesto Recipe:
1. Gently rinse fresh basil leaves and pat dry or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
Pro Tip: After blending the pesto, add more salt to taste if desired. Keep in mind that store-bought pesto sauces can be significantly saltier since they are compensating for freshness. Salt also preserves the sauce for a longer shelf life.
What Does Basil Pesto Go With?
Basil pesto is an easy and healthy summer sauce that adds incredible flavor to a variety of dishes. Of course, there are the obvious uses for basil pesto, like mixing it in with your favorite pasta dish, or as the base for a pizza, but there’s so much more you can do with it!
- Spread on to a sandwich for an elevated lunch
- Thin it down with oil or vinegar and make a basil pesto salad dressing
- Marinate or toss with your veggies instead of the typical oil and parmesan
- Use as a sauce topping for meat: chicken, salmon, pork tenderloin, and of course beef steaks.
More Homemade Sauce and Dressing Recipes
The flavors and ingredients of pesto and these homemade condiment recipes are way better than storebought. Once you make your own homemade dressings and sauces, it will spoil you forever.
- Tzatziki Sauce Recipe – a healthy sauce you can serve with chicken, grilled veggies, pita chips, gyros and as a raw veggie dip
- Tartar Sauce Recipe – even better than store-bought tartar sauce and super simple to make
- Horseradish Sauce Recipe – the best Steakhouse quality horseradish we’ve tried
- Avocado Ranch Dressing – You will flip over this twist on the traditional ranch dressing and it doubles as a dip
- Caesar Dressing – I love using this amazing recipe as both a dressing and a marinade for chicken
Basil Pesto Recipe
Pesto Sauce is so easy to make and homemade pesto tastes way better than storebought. This Basil Pesto recipe is fantastic with pasta or on sandwiches.
Wash and dry the basil leaves.
Place basil into a food processor, add cheese, nuts, garlic cloves, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.
Season with more salt to taste if desired.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen