Make fresh and delicious homemade pesto with just 5 ingredients: fresh basil, parmesan, toasted pine-nuts, garlic and olive oil. It only takes a few minutes to make and it tastes AMAZING.
Basil is one of my favourite fresh herbs, and I absolutely LOVE growing my own basil in the summer time so I can make another one of my favourite things: fresh pesto.
When you think of pesto, you probably think of a traditional pasta and pesto dish but you wouldn’t believe all the other ways you can enjoy fresh basil pesto.
In addition to serving it on pasta, you can also serve pesto with chicken, pork or fish. Pesto is wonderful on a burger or grilled sandwich. You can add pesto to eggs or an omelette, or spread it over a cob of corn. Try adding a little pesto to your meatballs when making spaghetti or mix it with your tomato sauce when making homemade pizza. You can also toss potatoes and roasted vegetables with a little pesto, or you can serve pesto straight up, slathered on a piece of crusty bread.
Mmmm…. Ok. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Pesto via Shutterstock
I always have a patch of basil in my garden, and this summer, with the weather being as hot as it was, my basil plants totally flourished. By the end of August, they were the size of small shrubs. They produced tons of leaves just bursting with that fresh, pungent flavour that is so unique to basil.
How to produce a bumper crop of basil:
My basil plants haven’t always done as well as they did this year though. Until recently, I didn’t know there was a trick to getting your basil to really thrive! It’s an easy trick that’s made all the difference in my basil patch.
Want to know the trick?
The trick to producing lush, abundant basil plants with enough leaves to last you all summer long is to USE your basil often!
AND pinch off any flowers you see forming at the tips of the plant. If you let the flowers form, that signals to the plant that its growing season is over, and your basil will start shutting down.
So pinch ’em off, harvest your basil regularly, and your basil plant will produce gorgeous, healthy leaves well into fall if the weather remains warm.
Don’t lose your basil to the first frost!
A word of warning: basil is really delicate when it comes to cooler temperatures, so be sure to harvest all of it before the night time temps take a big dip.
All it takes is one really cold night and your plants will wilt and die, so be sure to harvest your basil well before the first frost so you don’t lose it.
Trust me: there’s nothing more disappointing than planning to make enough pesto to get you through the winter, and waking up to find your plants wilted and brown. Been there. More than once.
Ok! Let’s make some pesto!
For this homemade basil recipe, you’ll need:
- 2-3 cups fresh basil leaves
- handful toasted pine nuts or walnuts (about 1/3 cup)
- handful grated parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup (approx.) olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- food processor
As you can see, I’m not a stickler for accurate measurements when I’m making pesto. I don’t think you need to be. It’s a fairly forgiving recipe. There’s wiggle room for every ingredient.
I always use my Ninja blender when I’m making pesto. It’s the best little blender around, and it’s really affordable. I think I paid about $40-50 bucks for this (affiliate) Ninja – Master Prep Pro. It was on sale, and it came with two containers – one large, and one small. We’re using the small container today.
Begin by roasting your pine nuts. You don’t have to roast them but it really does bring out the wonderful nutty flavour when you do.
Here are three different ways to roast pine nuts if you need a refresher.
Next, toss your garlic into your blender and chop that all up.
Now add your pine nuts and give those a spin too. You may need to drizzle a bit of olive oil in to keep things moving smoothly.
Once your garlic and pine nuts are well blended, start adding your basil leaves one handful at a time. Again, if things slow down a bit, just drizzle a little more olive oil over the leaves so they get well-chopped.
With the final handful of leaves, add your parmesan cheese, a generous pinch of salt and a few cranks of the pepper grinder.
Add the rest of the olive oil to the blender, and give it all a whirl.
Pulse until well-blended.
How to Store Homemade Pesto:
To store your pesto, you have a couple of options:
To keep your pesto in the fridge: transfer it into a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and pour a bit of olive oil over the top. This forms an air barrier on the surface of the pesto, and keeps it green and fresh. You can store your pesto in the fridge this way for up to a week.
That way it’s ready whenever you want to add it to a dish or slather it on a burger, dog or sandwich.
To freeze your pesto:
Fill the sections of an ice cube tray with your pesto. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once completely frozen transfer your frozen pesto cubes to a re-sealable freezer bag.
To use your frozen pesto, toss a couple of cubes straight into sauces and soups when cooking, or thaw and use just as you would fresh pesto.
More simple, fresh ideas for you to enjoy:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.