Basil Pesto and How to Keep it Beautifully Green

04.20.2016

I’ve been eating pesto on everything lately! It’s one of the best ways to add bold, fresh flavors to an entree and it’s easy to make. If you haven’t tried making it at home yet you haven’t lived yet! The freshness of homemade basil pesto makes it so much better than store-bought, plus the fact that homemade uses extra-virgin olive oil vs. the canola oil many grocery store brands use. This is the perfect recipe if you just happen to be planting an herb garden with lots of basil in it this summer (we just planted our first garden – fingers crossed. We’ll see how it goes). This does take about 3 fairly large bunches of basil to make (and that’s not those little packages at the store).  You’re best bet will be to use a kitchen scale to get the weight of the basil leaves because we all pack leaves into cups differently. I did add some parsley to this pesto but if  you’d prefer you can just use more basil, which I also do on occasion. I do love the blend of the two herbs so usually if I have the parsley I’ll always add it in too.

Homemade Basil Pesto (and how to keep it beautifully green) | Cooking Classy

If you are looking to keep your pesto nice and vibrantly green you will need to boil the basil leaves for 5 seconds (fully submerged) then rest in ice water to halt the cooking process and drain (aka quickly blanch it). This step is completely optional, if I’m not too concerned about the look of the pesto and I don’t care if it turns to a dingy-ish green I’ll skip this step on occasion, but it is just so nice to keep it in the fridge for a few days and go back to nice vibrantly green pesto. The blanching takes just a hint of the flavor but I do actually like the fact that it’s a little more mellow and not quite as earthy. You can try it both ways and see if you think the blanching is worth it. I get so tired of a oddly colored green pesto that I love this method.

You can freeze homemade pesto, I’ve never tried it because it never lasts that long around here but if you are growing a lot of basil in your garden I can’t think of a better use for it then to make a bunch of it and freeze it to enjoy throughout the year. Come winter you be so glad you did!

Toss this basil pesto over some pasta and diced grilled chicken and you’ve got an incredible meal in not time! I also love to use this pesto is with this Salmon so be sure to try it out! And come back soon, I’ll be sharing another recipe that uses this pesto in the next few days.

Recipe updated from archives. Originally shared July 22, 2013

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Basil Pesto

Yield: About 3/4 cup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (60g) slightly packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (15g) slightly packed parsley leaves (or more basil)
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts (un-toasted or toasted)
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic , peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste

Instructions

  1. If you want to keep the pesto green you'll need to blanch the basil, this step is optional it's only if you want it to stay nicely green. To do so, bring a large pot of water to a boil over moderately high heat and fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water. Carefully transfer 1/2 of the basil to boiling water using a large wire sieve, submerge and allow to boil for just 5 seconds then immediately remove from boiling water and transfer to ice water (reserve water in pot to boil pasta if you're making the pesto for pasta). Allow to rest for about 10 seconds then transfer to paper towels to drain excess water (lightly dab water away don't squeeze dry). Repeat with remaining basil (you can blanch the parsley too but it stays pretty green even without blanching).
  2. To a food processor add basil, parsley, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and garlic and process mixture until finely minced, while occasionally scraping down sides of processor. Add in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, then with processor running, slowly drizzle in 6 Tbsp olive oil and process until well pureed, occasionally scraping down the sides of processor. Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil if desired to thin. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
  3. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Homemade Basil Pesto (and how to keep it beautifully green) | Cooking Classy

28 comments

  • Patricia @ ButterYum: I’m so very glad you included gram weights in this recipe. LOVE that!! July 23, 2013 at 8:21am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yeah basil is tricky – I’ve seen so many pesto recipes that say one or two bunches of basil and I’m thinking that can vary so widely giving people an entirely different end result, also people pack their cups a lot differently :). July 23, 2013 at 8:31am Reply

  • Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com: Beautful looking pesto! July 23, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: Gorgeous pesto! I’ve never added lemon juice to my pesto but will definitely have to try that next time! July 23, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

  • Jessica@AKitchenAddiction: I love how vibrant your pesto is! Gorgeous! July 23, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

  • Janet R: No advice… just a compliment! That green is absolutely beautiful! Keep up the good work! July 23, 2013 at 4:10pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Janet! July 23, 2013 at 8:48pm Reply

  • Susan: Welcome to the world of Apple computers! I did the switch from an HP laptop to a MacBook Pro 4 years ago and have never looked back (my HP died a month later from a broken heart…) I think you’ll be really happy with the change.

    Your pesto recipe sounds wonderful. I’m looking forward to trying it. July 24, 2013 at 8:58am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yeah so far I love it, the colors are so pretty and far better than what I’m used to :). I hope you love the pesto Susan! July 24, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

  • Abbie @ Needs Salt: I love how perfectly green this pesto is!! It’s beautiful.
    I’ve been conspiring about making pesto recently… we’re growing a ton of basil in our garden and I love pesto. How long does it keep stored in the fridge? July 26, 2013 at 7:38am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Abbie! I think probably about 3-4 days in the refrigerator but you could freeze it for several months. July 26, 2013 at 9:04am Reply

  • Patty McGuire: Jaclyn, I’ve been taking pictures for forever, and the only calibration I’ve ever done is checking prints from my lab to my screen. Once I got those two items to match, which I did with old fashioned “eye balling,” I let it go. The bottom line is, your readers are likely not using calibrated monitors. So what does it matter if you’re calibrated and nobody else is? If they aren’t calibrated, it isn’t going to look like your screen. If you sold prints, I would suggest you match the output to your screen, but other than that…who cares? As long as it looks fine to you on your screen, I wouldn’t worry about it. It looks beautiful to me! I’m also on a mac, and I think that has a lot to do with good color rendition. A LOT of the younger photographers go on and on endlessly about calibration and blah, blah, blah. I personally think it’s money that doesn’t need to be spent. (unless you’re a wedding photographer selling expensive albums) I’d rather invest in a new lens or something. If you pull up the new images on the old laptop that is NOT calibrated, how does it look? That’s probably what your readers see. You cannot stress over that! You can only produce the work you know is good and let it go. Your work on this blog is just awesome!! You do a great job on the whole thing. If it makes you feel better to calibrate, then by all means go for it! I would be interested to see what, if any, difference it makes. You could also get a color card and always shoot that in your first frame. I always shoot a white piece of paper first frame. Then when I edit in LR, I just get that white to a true white and apply that color temperature across the shoot. Just my opinion, but you did ask. <3
    Patty July 30, 2013 at 5:09am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Patty for the info! I’d never heard of a color card so that’s good to know. And thanks for the compliments too! July 30, 2013 at 6:11am Reply

      • Patty McGuire: Hey Jaclyn! Here’s a link to the card you might find helpful. http://www.amazon.com/CameraTrax-ColorCard-percent-Balance-Guidebook/dp/B004QXU8VI
        You should consider a gray card, too, if you really want to be a stickler for accuracy. I shoot a white piece of paper in the first frame and then when I pull the files into LR, I can use the white balance tool in there to make the white a true white. They, just apply the same white balance across the session as long as the lighting is similar. Change the light? Shoot a new frame with the white paper. August 15, 2013 at 5:18am Reply

        • Jaclyn: Thanks so much for the info Patty!! August 22, 2013 at 8:02pm Reply

  • Lynn Gerebi: Love the pesto…how about a no nut version? August 12, 2013 at 4:36pm Reply

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks: This is an awesome tip about blanching the leaves! Because it’s so much more appealing (even when I’m just making it for myself) to eat pesto that’s bright green the next day! April 20, 2016 at 8:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes it’s life changing :). April 21, 2016 at 11:02am Reply

  • Roxana: Gorgeous color! I love this! April 20, 2016 at 9:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Roxana! April 21, 2016 at 9:19am Reply

  • Audrey: Love fresh basil and it grows like a weed in pots. Thank you for this recipe, beautiful pictures (always) and the addition of lemon juice. Basil and lemon juice, a perfect combination! April 21, 2016 at 11:00am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the compliment Audrey :)! April 21, 2016 at 11:01am Reply

  • Beverley Press: beautiful photos as usual and thank you for all the tips to making a bright green pesto xoxo April 21, 2016 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Beverley! April 22, 2016 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Martha in KS: Thanks for the tip on blanching. Tonight for dinner I had a BLT made with mayo mixed with pesto from the freezer. Heavenly! April 22, 2016 at 6:27pm Reply

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress): I LOVE pesto and the tip for greener pesto is brilliant! pinning! April 26, 2016 at 5:43pm Reply

  • Lacey: Any recommendations for nut-free pesto? I am allergic but I love the idea! April 27, 2016 at 11:31am Reply

  • susan: Thank you for this tip on how to keep it green. I shy away from making this home made for this reason, out crop is full and I am going to try this tip July 23, 2016 at 8:52am Reply

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