Pesto is a popular Italian cold sauce based on basil, cheese, and olive oil.
Pesto is usually sold in small jars and has a unique green color.
Pesto is a modern sauce that comes from an old garlic sauce. Comes from the region of Liguria in northern Italy.
The classic Genoese pesto (pesto alla genovese) is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. Today, pesto can be made easily in a blender bowl.
Pesto made at home tastes better than store-bought pesto. Although pesto always seems fancy and gourmet, homemade pesto can easily be made in your food processor or blender.
Basil pesto is –
- Delicious and flavorful
- Exceptionally versatile
- Prepared in minutes
- Simple to make with just a few ingredients
- It’s easy to customize using whatever you have on hand
- Extra flavorful thanks to roasted garlic
As a rule, pesto is made according to taste, depending on the available ingredients.
Pesto recipes typically call for Parmesan cheese. But you can use Romano which has a stronger flavor.
Traditionally, basil pesto recipes call for pine nuts, but walnuts can easily be substituted.
Basil is a highly aromatic herb and a little goes a long way. It is possible to make the pesto a little mellower by substituting half the basil with fresh baby spinach leaves. Green pesto will more easily remain vibrant and the taste of basil will still shine through, but not as strongly.
Parmesan cheese adds a little saltiness and helps the pesto stick together. It’s honestly the best part.
Not only does olive oil add flavor, it also helps create an unbeatable creamy and rich consistency.
Basil Pesto Ingredients
Salt & Pepper
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
Pulse the basil and pine nuts: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times
Cut the cheese finely with a knife and add to bowl
Add the garlic and pulse several times more.
Add the olive oil and pulse/process to blend.
Scrape down the sides of the blender bowl, then add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse this mixture until everything is blended together and relatively smooth.
Taste, and adjust if necessary. Add a pinch of salt if the basil tastes too bitter or the pesto needs more zing. Add more Parmesan if you’d like a creamier/cheesier pesto. If desired, you can thin out the pesto with more olive oil.
If you want to freeze the pesto- Freeze the pesto for up to 2-3 months. You can freeze it in greased ice cube trays and thaw small portions at a time.
Uses for Classic Basil Pesto
Pesto sauce is a perfect addition to pasta. The simplest option is to boil spaghetti and season with sauce. It also goes well with poultry and veal. And pesto sauce will be a perfect addition to tomato salads.
Cover the container with an airtight lid and store in a dark place before placing the sauce in the refrigerator. Remember that nuts, due to their high fat content, easily absorb odors. If you get a large portion of the sauce, I leave part of the sauce in the refrigerator, and put the other part in the freezer for storage.