Fresh basil, delicious olive oil and a salty parmesan cheese make this Basil Pesto the only pesto recipe you need! It's so simple to make and better than any pesto you can find on the grocery store shelves. While you can put this on sandwiches, mix it in with pasta, or spread it on a crusty piece of bread, you may find that it's so good you could eat it with a spoon! Seriously, its that good!
This recipe comes from my mom who has made this exact pesto recipe for many years. Lucky for me, she has always had a very abundant garden. If she isn't making pesto and sharing it with me throughout the summer, then I'm picking her basil and making it myself! I've tried buying pesto in a jar and making other recipes, but this is, by far, the best! This is a no-fail recipe as it turns out so good everytime we make it.
This can be made and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about a week. If your home is anything like ours, you shouldn't have any left after a week though! There are so many ways you can eat this pesto. Our favorite is to add it to warm pasta or spread on panini sandwiches.
Ingredients Needed for Basil Pesto
- Olive oil - Be sure to use an olive oil that tastes good. You can usually get some pretty good olive oil at the grocery store when you don't buy the cheapest! I like to aim for something in the mid-range. Not too cheap and not too expensive either!
- Garlic - Fresh garlic cloves are best, but jarred garlic works great too!
- Pine nuts: Pine nuts can be pretty expensive. If you are looking for an alternative nut, you could use walnuts, pistachios or almonds.
- Basil - Fresh from the garden is best, but however you get your hands on some basil is perfectly fine! Alternatively, you could use parsley, mint, spinach, arugula, kale or cilantro for a different flavor!
- Parmesan cheese - We always use this grated parmesan and I think it's the best for this pesto. Any good parmesan will be good though! You could also use other hard Italian cheeses like: asiago, pecorino romano or grana padano. Keep in mind that some of these cheeses are on the saltier side, so I would not add the salt until you have tasted the pesto and can adjust accordingly.
How to Make Basil Pesto
In the bowl of your food processor, add the olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and salt. Process on high while slowly adding the basil, a little at a time, until well mixed and smooth. Scrape the sides as needed. Add the cheese and process on high until well blended. If the pesto is too thick, add additional olive oil, a little at a time, and continue to process until it is the desired consistency. I don't usually add extra olive oil because I don't mind when it is on the thicker side. Taste the pesto to determine whether or not you need to add more salt and adjust accordingly.
That's it! So simple and amazingly delicious!
- Do I have to use a food processor? No! You can make this Basil Pesto in a blender if you don't have a food processor.
- What should I use the Basil Pesto for? This pesto is so good mixed into warm, cooked pasta. You can spread this on bread for sandwiches. Use it in pasta salads. Use it to marinate meat or spoon it on top of grilled chicken or steak. Spread it on good, crusty bread or as the sauce on a homemade pizza. The possibilities are really endless here, so get creative!
- How should I store leftover Basil Pesto? I always store it in a jar with a tight fitting lid for up to a week in the refrigerator. To prevent any browning on the top, cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil.
- I don't like pine nuts. Can I use a different nut? Sure! You could easily replace the pine nuts with walnuts, pistachios or almonds. You could even leave the nuts out altogether if you wanted to.
- I'm not a fan of basil. Could I use something else? Yes! I've made pesto with parsley and mint. I've also heard that kale, spinach, arugula, or cilantro would be good alternatives.
- Are there any other kinds of cheese I could use? Yes! You could use any hard Italian cheese variety that you prefer, like: pecorino romano, asiago or grana padano.
Looking For More Delicious Recipes?
Try one of these:
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- In the bowl of a food processor, add oil, garlic, pine nuts and salt. Process on high until smooth.¾ cup olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves, ½ cup pine nuts, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add basil, a little at a time, and process on high until smooth, scraping the sides of bowl as needed.2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
- Add parmesan cheese and continue to process on high until well blended. Taste and adjust salt, if needed.¼ cup parmesan cheese