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.
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
- Olive oil
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.
Add another third of the basil leaves and pulse to combine add the remaining basil leaves and pulse.
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.
Move to a clean jar to store.
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Originally made using a marble mortar and a circular motion with a wooden pestle, now a food processor makes it fast and easy.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.
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.
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!
Easy Classic Basil Pesto
- 1¾ ounces fresh basil (about 4 cups) (50 grams)
- 5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (32 grams)
- 2 tablespoons Pecorino Cheese (13 grams)
- ⅓ cup olive oil (72 grams)
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts (heaping soup spoon)
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 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.
Updated from July 11, 2017.
Denise Crane says
I love all your recipes but I would love a red pepper pesto please
Hi Denise, thanks so much, that’s a great idea, I will definitely add one. Take care!
Absolutely simple but so delicious! Love all your recipes!
Hi HJ, thanks so much, so glad you like the recipes. Take care!
This was SO GOOD! I added some sautéed vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, and mushrooms) and extra pine nuts and it was perfect. My entire Italian family loved it! MOLTO BENE!
Hi Maria, thanks so much, glad you and your family enjoyed it. Take care.
Absolutely delicious!!! Everyone Loves this dish. It takes me a bit of time to make because I’m precisely cutting the basil and I’m not good at making pasta. I just didn’t grow up eating pasta. However, this is now an every other week dish. It’s super exciting. I just need to get thr hang of it. Maybe if I made the pasta first then I could go faster. It can take a long time if you’re looking for the correct cheese and the nut. I love this pesto. Thank you!
Hi Zee, thanks so much, so glad you like it. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to do it in no time. You could boil the water while you are blending the pesto, then cook the pasta. Take care.
Peter Newell says
Hi Peter, thanks so much, glad you liked it.
Do you toast the pine nuts first?
Hi Mandy, no I don’t toast them first.
Another fab recipe, so glad I came across this site. I also roasted up some chilli’s, cherry tomatoes and garlic for a hour or so. I let them cool then added them to a pan with a tad of butter, and the pesto. Once this was warmed through I added the cooked pasta and a couple of spoons of the liquid. Delicious
Hi Heather thanks so much, and that sounds delicious. Have a great week.
Concetta Barnish says
Your pesto was easy to make and fantastic to eat.
I will look forward to more easy recipes
Hi Concetta, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy the other recipes too. Have a great week.
KIMBERLY POPE says
Have you every made pesto with either an avocado or spinach?
Hi Kimberly no I haven’t made it with either, but I think the spinach one could be made the same as the Arugula Pesto, I imagine it would be very good. The avocado actually sounds very interesting. 🙂
How long can this sauce be restored in the refrigerator?
Hi Nilay it can be stored in the fridge up to a week and frozen for up to 6 months. Hope that helps.
Dick Servati says
As an Italian I was drawn to your site by it’s name and really like it. My comment is about the blurb – “He was a Brave Man that first ate an oyster” Jonathan Swift I think the bravest was the guy who said “Did you see what fell out of that chicken’s rear? I think I’ll eat it”.
Hi Dick, or what’s in his head and my father-in-law would have eaten it! 🙂
Jack Kelly says
I agree about the food processor. Your pesto recipe is perfect!
Thanks Jack, it really is easy and delicious. 🙂
You didn’t put the garlic in the steps although it’s in the ingredients. I usually put it in first and grind it up real fine.
Hi Louise, sorry about that, I added it at the end. 🙂