Homemade Pesto made with a blend of fresh basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese adds a ton of flavor to pasta, chicken, etc.
This time every summer, the basil plants in my garden are lush and beautiful, full of fragrant leaves I like to pick and add to whatever I’m cooking. I usually skip the nuts in my pesto and no one misses it. It’s delicious tossed with orzo and tomatoes, tossed with zoodles, make Baked Pesto Chicken or enjoy it on pesto chicken skewers.
Pesto is one of the things I whip up all summer long, but most recipes for basil pesto usually have a lot of oil and fat. To make it lighter, I use less oil and leave the pine nuts out, and no one ever complains. Feel free to add them if you wish.
- Garlic Cloves
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- Salt and pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
How to Make Basil Pesto
Make pesto with fresh basil in two easy steps.
- In a food processor or blender, pulse basil, garlic, Parmesan, salt, and pepper until smooth.
- Slowly pour in the olive oil while pulsing.
How to freeze pesto:
Making pesto at the end of the summer and freezing it is a great way to use up the last of the basil from your garden so you can enjoy it all winter long.
Freeze pesto in ice cube trays, mini silicone muffin pans, zip-locked bags, or small containers for up to three months. If using muffin or ice cube trays, transfer the pesto to a freezer-storage bag once frozen. You could also freeze spoonfuls of pesto on a parchment-lined baking tray and transfer them to a bag once frozen.
How to Serve Basil Pesto
Homemade basil pesto is the perfect sauce for so many dishes.
- Pasta: Coat zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or your favorite pasta with pesto, and add some shrimp or chicken and roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, or spinach.
- Sandwich: Spread the pesto on a baguette or ciabatta and top with grilled or roasted veggies and mozzarella.
- Burgers: Top turkey or veggie burgers with pesto mayo.
- Marinade: Marinate shrimp or chicken in pesto.
- Pizza: Swap tomato sauce for pesto on homemade pizza.
- Grain Bowl: Mix pesto with couscous or brown rice and top with chicken and grilled vegetables, like zucchini, tomatoes, and onions.
Most Asked Questions
Are pine nuts essential for pesto?
You can make pesto without the nuts. I never add pine nuts to my pesto because they are so expensive and add more fat. And no one ever misses them. For a less pricey option, try almonds or walnuts if you want to include nuts.
Why is my homemade basil pesto bitter?
The olive oil can become bitter if you process the pesto too much. Process all the ingredients, then add the olive oil last. So, be careful when blending, and if your pesto does taste bitter, try adding a little extra salt or cheese.
How long does homemade basil pesto last?
Homemade basil lasts 3 days in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer.
More Pesto Recipes You’ll Love:
- Pesto Parmesan Backed Tomatoes
- Baked Pesto Chicken Breast
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes
- Garlic Scape Basil Pesto
- Eggplant Panini with Pesto
Homemade Basil Pesto
- In a food processor pulse basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until smooth.
- Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing.
- Store in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use or you can freeze this in ziplocks bags to use at a later date.