Learn how to make pesto with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil. This is an easy sauce recipe full of flavor and great served with pasta for a light meal.
I’m always amazed to discover favorite restaurant dishes that are really easy to make at home. I love to order pesto pasta when we eat out at our favorite Italian restaurant, but now that I know how to make my own, I’m not sure I’ll order it again. Might need to try something else!
I love this simple sauce – it’s fresh and light. It’s great with pasta, but I use it as a condiment and add it to all kinds of things like sandwiches, soup recipes, pizza, and salads. Now we always have a container of basil pesto sauce in our refrigerator.
What is Basil Pesto?
It’s a very simple Italian sauce made with just six ingredients. Pesto comes from Genoa, Italy, and it’s a cold sauce – no cooking is required. Instead, you blend all of the ingredients together. The true Italian way of making it is with a mortar and pestle, but many people use a food processor to make it easier.
- Fresh basil leaves
- Pine nuts
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
How to Make Basil Pesto
The first thing you’ll want to do is toast the pine nuts. Doing this brings out their flavor. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Place the nuts in the skillet and toast them for a few minutes - once they are fragrant and starting to brown, take them off the heat.
Separate the stems from the basil and discard them. Place the leaves in the food processor along with the garlic, toasted nuts, cheese, and some salt. Put the lid on and then pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped.
With the food processor running, add a ¼ cup of olive oil. Once combined, the sauce should be on the thicker side. If you want it thinner add up to ¼ cup more of olive oil.
Give the sauce a taste and add more salt if you think it needs it. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and it will keep for up to five days.
Basil Pesto Recipe FAQs
Do you have to use pine nuts? Pine nuts are traditional, but you can use other nuts to make pesto, too. Toasted walnuts would work well.
Can you freeze pesto? Yes, it freezes well. Store it in small containers or an ice cube tray and freeze it. It should keep well for several months.
What are different ways to use it? Toss it with your favorite pasta or with tortellini. You can also use it as a spread for sandwiches and burgers. It makes an excellent marinade for chicken and pork. You can also use it as a dressing for salads.
If you’ve never made your own basil pesto sauce, I think you will really enjoy this recipe. It’s easy and tastes great. There’s a reason it’s loved all over the world – it’s so simple but with big flavors. Enjoy!
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Basil Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed and stems removed
- ¼ pine nuts
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- ¼ to ½ cup olive oil
- Salt to taste
- In a small skillet over medium heat, brown pine nuts for 3-5 minutes. Once they start to brown, remove from heat.
- Put basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and a small amount of salt in a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are combined into a rough chop.
- Turn on food processor and add ¼ cup olive oil. Check consistency. It should be somewhat thick. Add a little more olive oil to get the consistency you want. A ½ cup of olive oil should be plenty.
This Basil Pesto is a simple Italian sauce made with only 6 ingredients. We love using this as a condiment in the summer months!