Traditional Basil Pesto
Pesto, pesto, pesto, 3 cheers for pesto! Pesto rocks! Not only is pesto healthy, but it also has endless uses. Top it over hot or cold pasta, throw it over some pizza dough and make yourself a green pesto pizza, spread it on some cold or grilled bread for a different take on garlic bread, top your favorite meat or fish with it. You get where I’m going here, right? Pesto is such a versatile sauce in the way it’s used and the way it’s made. There is arugula pesto, parsley pesto, broccoli pesto (I have made this before and topped it on quinoa, that recipe later).
Have you ever made your own pesto before? It’s super easy and so worth it. If you do make it on your own, the great news is that pesto freezes exceptionally well, so you can make a big batch and store it for future use. I usually make up 2 batches and then use one that week and freeze the other batch in a small glass container.
Below are 3 of my favorite go-to pesto recipes.
If you’re looking for a dairy free one, try the walnut pesto.
BTW, I don’t have a big food processor and have made all of these pestos in my mini-prep.
recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
makes about 1 cup
This pesto is wonderful paired with this lentil meatball recipe.
recipe adapted from Oprah
makes about 1 cup
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
This pesto is wonderful paired with pasta with sausage and broccolini.
My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a dry skillet. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add walnuts to the hot,dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool.
Combine the following in the bowl of a food processor:
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 cups basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Process and, while motor is running, drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil to form pesto; set aside. Note: If you don’t have a large food processor, like me, and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away.
traditional basil pesto:
recipe from How to Cook Everything
makes about 1 cup – enough for a pound of pasta
- 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 garlic clove, peeled, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (not toasted)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more if desired
- 1/4 fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese – I used parmesan here and I add this to the pesto an hour before I am going to use it.
Combine the following in the bowl of a food processor or blender:
2 cups basil
pinch of salt
1/2 peeled garlic clove
2 tablespoons pine nuts
half of the olive oil
Pulse away till you get a nice consistency making sure to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, then add the rest of the oil gradually. If you want a thinner mixture you can add more olive oil. I thought that the 1/2 cup was plenty and the pesto had a perfect consistency.
Pour your pesto into a container and store in the fridge till needed. Add the freshly grated parmesan an hour or so before you use it. This pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two or in the freezer for several months.
We are pesto lovers in my house. We love it over cold or warm pasta and if were feeling carbed out we throw it on top of some quinoa pasta. Pesto is what got my kids to try and love quinoa pasta as it masks the flavor of the quinoa noodles. We always make sure to throw a veggie or two in the pesto pasta to make it a one-bowl meal. Roasted cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli or broccolini tastes wonderful paired with pesto.