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.
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
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- Recipe source: Cooking Classy