While there are so many basil pesto recipes out there, I still wanted to share my favourite recipe with you. I make this recipe at least 2-3 times every Summer when basil is at it’s best. It is full of basil flavour and I just love the combination of basil, pine-nuts, parmesan cheese and garlic – heady and delicious! This screams Summer to me.
Today I am sharing my favourite Basil Pesto recipe. I find home-made pesto to be so much better than store-bought. There really is no comparison in my eyes. If you are a fan of pesto, and have never made it yourself, you simply must. A food processor makes it a cinch to make and the freshness and taste is far superior.
Pesto is traditionally made using a Mortar and Pestle, however a food processor makes this recipe very quick and easy.
I make batches of this pesto every Summer when basil is in abundance. It freezes really well too so I always make a batch at the end of the season as that way I can use it in the following months.
Ingredients to make this recipe
- basil leaves – this recipe uses 2 packed cups of freshly picked leaves. I find anywhere between 100g and 120g in weight to be sufficient. Wash and dry the leaves well. Wash them in cold water to remove any grit then place in a tea towel and pat dry.
- garlic cloves – I do like a garlicky pesto. If you prefer a milder flavour, then reduce to 2 cloves of garlic. Always crush the garlic first before adding to the food processor. That way the garlic is distributed throughout the pesto and you won’t bite into a large chunk of garlic.
- sea salt
- olive oil – use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil that you like the taste of. I use a fruity variety.
- pine nuts – I always use pine nuts in basil pesto. Some recipes use toasted pine nuts but I actually prefer to use them fresh without toasting. If you are not a fan of pine nuts, then you can substitute with walnuts, almonds or even pumpkin seeds (a nut-free alternative).
- parmesan or pecorino cheese – use freshly grated if you can, or a good quality ‘grated’ parmesan. If the parmesan is finely grated, I stir it through the pesto at the end instead of processing it. To make a vegan pesto, you can substitute the parmesan cheese with vegan cheese or nutritional yeast.
Tips to making this Basil Pesto
- Wash and dry the leaves well in cold water. Remove as much moisture from the leaves as you can without bruising them (I pat them dry with a tea towel). Some recipes suggest blanching the leaves first to preserve the green colour, however I have never done this and have found my pesto to have a beautiful vibrant green colour.
- Always crush the garlic cloves first before adding them to the food processor. That way they are distributed evenly and you won’t bite into a big chunk.
- When storing the basil pesto, add a thin layer of olive oil over the top to cover, before sealing the jar or container. This prevents the top from browning. Store pesto for up to a week in the fridge or freeze for up to 3 months.
- toss through pasta
- toss through zucchini noodles – a combination we like is chopped baby tomatoes, crumbled feta and pesto with zucchini noodles
- use in sandwiches or toasted sandwiches
- serve on top of crostini with tomato or even cooked prawns (add a dollop of mayo to the pesto)!
- instead of garlic bread, make pesto bread
- add to raw scone mix or bread dough
- add to rice or pasta salads
- use as a pizza topping
- serve a dollop with eggs, frittatas or quiche
- food processor or mini food processor
- 2 c basil leaves (between 100g and 120g in weight) washed and dried
- 3 large garlic cloves or 4 medium peeled and crushed
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 c olive oil extra virgin
- 3/4 c pine nuts
- 80 g parmesan cheese or pecorino grated
- sea salt, extra for seasoning
- Add the basil leaves and crushed garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Scatter over salt and add 1/4 c of the olive oil. Process until combined.Scrape down the sides, add the pine nuts and another 1/4 c of olive oil. Process briefly so the pine nuts are still chunky.Drizzle the last 1/4 c of olive oil through the feed tube and process until just combined. Add the cheese and pulse a couple of times or if the cheese is finely grated, you can just stir it through.Season to taste with extra salt if required.If you prefer a smoother pesto, then process longer.Store pesto in the fridge in a jar or container, with a thin layer of oil over the top of the pesto to prevent it from browning. Seal the container. Lasts for up to a week in the fridge or freeze in a container for up to 3 months.