Easy Classic Basil Pesto Recipe

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Basil Pesto, is easy and can be made in five minutes with a few ingredients. Basil pesto is delicious and so versatile, it can be used in a variety of dishes. Made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, and olive oil. A classic Italian recipe that makes anything from pasta to pizza even more delicious.

Basil pesto in a jar.

I have been making a lot of homemade pesto recipes since I started this blog, from one of my favorite Arugula pesto to Zucchini pesto to a favorite Sun-dried Tomato pesto.

Is Basil good for you?

Basil is one of my favorite herbs, from its wonderful flavorful to amazing aroma. It is also loaded with health benefits. It is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

These can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. It is also a good source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health.

Pine nuts are also good for you, they are a good source of nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. They are high in healthy fats, which can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Ingredients needed to make Basil Pesto

  • Basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Pine nuts
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Ingredients to make basil pesto.

How to make Homemade Basil Pesto

Place food processor container and blade or blender in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Meanwhile wash and dry the fresh basil leaves.

Remove the container and blade from refrigerator. Add a third of the basil leaves, half the salt, one third of the olive oil and pulse to combine.

Basil leaves in the food processor before and after pulsed.

Add another third of the basil leaves and pulse to combine add the remaining basil leaves and pulse.

Adding the remaining ingredients.

Be sure to scrape the sides of the food processor before adding more ingredients.

Add the pine nuts, Parmesan Cheese and Pecorino, some of the olive oil, remaining salt and pulse to combine, add the remaining olive oil and garlic, pulse on high to combine.

Adding the remaining ingredients and pulsing.

Move to a clean jar to store.

The pesto in a jar.

What is Pesto?

Pesto alla Genovese is a traditional condiment typical of Genova the capital of Liguria in Italy. Its main ingredient is basil, although now a lot of different ingredients are used to make a Pesto.

Originally made using  a marble mortar and a circular motion with a wooden pestle, now a food processor makes it fast and easy.

All the ingredients including the basil, salt, pine nuts and garlic, Parmesan,  and of course extra virgin olive oil were placed in the mortar and combined until a thick creamy paste was made.

Pesto is never cooked and is usually tossed with pasta.

What substitutions can I make for the basil pesto?

Instead of pine nuts I have know some to replace them with almonds, walnuts or even pistachios. If you prefer you could use all parmesan cheese instead of pecorino. You could add a dash or two of black pepper.

Pesto made with pasta in a bowl.

How to use Basil Pesto

Basil pesto can be used in a variety of dishes, including pasta, pesto pizza, salads and sandwiches. Here are a few ideas you may like.

  • Toss cooked pasta with pesto for a quick and easy meal.
  • Spread pesto on a pizza crust before adding toppings.
  • Use pesto as a sandwich spread or a dip for vegetables.
  • Mix pesto with mayonnaise to create a flavorful condiment for burgers or grilled chicken.
Basil pesto and pasta in a grey bowl.

How to store the Pesto

It should be stored in a jar with a tight fitting lid or an airtight container. Cover the pesto with a drizzle of olive oil before closing, then store in the refrigerator for approximately 5 days.

You can also freeze pesto in freezer safe jars, containers, freezer bags or even ice cube trays. It will keep for up to 6 months. Thaw the pesto completely at room temperature before using.

Basil pesto is a delicious and healthy sauce that can add flavor and nutrition to a variety of dishes. Making pesto at home is easy and allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavor to your liking. Give this recipe a try and enjoy the delicious taste and health benefits of basil pesto! Buon Appetito!

Pesto in a jar.
Basil pesto in a jar.

Easy Classic Basil Pesto

Rosemary Molloy

Basil Pesto, is easy and can be made in five minutes with a few ingredients. A classic Italian recipe that makes even pasta to pizza more delicious.

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Prep Time 10 minutes

Total Time 10 minutes

Course Main Dish, Pasta

Cuisine Italian

Servings 0.75 cup

Calories 1157 kcal

Ingredients  

  • ounces fresh basil (about 4 cups) (50 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (32 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino Cheese (13 grams)
  • cup olive oil (72 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (heaping soup spoon)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Place the food processor container and blade in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

  • Meanwhile wash and dry fresh basil leaves.

  • Remove the container and blade from the refrigerator.  Add ⅓ basil leaves, half the salt, ⅓ of the olive oil and pulse to combine.  Add another ⅓ of the basil leaves and pulse to combine add the remaining basil leaves and pulse.

  • Add the pine nuts, Parmesan Cheese and Pecorino, another ⅓ olive oil, remaining salt and pulse to combine, add remaining olive oil and garlic, pulse on high to combine.  Serve over cooked pasta. Enjoy!

  • **Makes approximately 1 cup pesto, I served half over 3 cups cooked Penne Pasta with a little olive oil drizzled and tossed.  Left over Pesto should be refrigerated.

Notes

It should be stored in a jar with a tight fitting lid or an airtight container. Cover the pesto with a drizzle of olive oil before closing, then store in the refrigerator for approximately 5 days.
You can also freeze pesto in freezer safe jars, containers, freezer bags or even ice cube trays. It will keep for up to 6 months. Thaw the pesto completely at room temperature before using.

Nutrition

Calories: 1157kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 19gFat: 119gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 76gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 1525mgPotassium: 381mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 3838IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 572mgIron: 4mg

Keyword basil pesto, basil pesto genovese, basil pesto recipe, classic basil pesto

Updated from July 11, 2017.

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