Basil Pesto

By Christina Collins

Sometimes you just can’t keep up with Basil’s speedy growth habits, and you have to keep harvesting it or it will go to seed before you know it. So what is one to do with all that bountiful basil? The answer is Pesto!

When harvesting basil, clip it right above the first set of four leaves and it will continue to produce strong, healthy leaves

At the end of each growing season I actually feel a loss when the Basil decides it has had enough producing and urns to seed. But during the summer months we get to enjoy its prolific leaves in abundance more than any other herb. However, you need to keep an eye on your basil because once it decides to bolt, the leaves become bitter and its no longer good to use in recipes.

The best part about making homemade Pesto is that it makes a lot and it freezes remarkably well, giving you the opportunity to enjoy its herbaceous flavor for months to come. I make sure to grow plenty of fresh genovese style basil so that I can make enough pesto to last through the winter.

Pesto is personal!

There are many, many pesto recipes out there which I originally found quite interesting because pesto only requires a handful of ingredients- how many variations could there be? Well, over time, I have learned that pesto is personal! You can take the exact same ingredients as someone else and the result can be astonishingly different. The freshness, the kind of basil, the quality, and the quantities all come together and produce a similar, yet notably different result. You have to make it yours, and make it just the way you like it.

I have tried many recipes over time and I continually come back to the one featured here. I occasionally I substitute the pignoli nuts for walnuts. The most important thing is to taste for seasoning and be sure to use the best quality ingredients that you can.

Feaster’s Tips

  • Homemade Pesto makes a great gift for neighbors and friends!
  • Freeze Pesto in small jars or ice cube trays.
  • When tasting, keep in mind that your flavors will marry together after sitting which will soften the garlic intensity.
  • Remember that parmesan cheese is naturally salty, so keep that in mind when adjusting your seasonings.
  • After transferring the pesto to your storage containers of choice, top with a thin layer of olive oil, cover and store until ready to use. This will keep it from spoiling and keep the color bright green.

An important note about salt:

All salt is not created equal. The type of salt you cook with will absolutely impact your finished meal. If a recipe calls for 1 tbs kosher salt, which is what “better quality” recipes would assume you would be cooking with, then you better use kosher salt! If you use 1 tbs iodine salt as a substitute, then your final dish is likely to be much more salty than the recipe intended. I only cook with Diamond Course Kosher Salt. That is why I can recommend it with confidence. Whatever you choose to cook with, be mindful and remember you can always put the salt in, but you can’t take the salt out! 

Basil Pesto

Use pesto as a sandwich spread, on pasta or toss with vegetables. Pesto has endless uses, freezes well in small portions and makes a great gift. 
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

  • .5 cup pignoli or walnuts (It’s very important to make sure to use fresh nuts)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh garlic (Amount depends on intensity of the garlic & your taste preference)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed down lightly
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup good quality, fresh grated parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Add the nuts and garlic into a food processor using the blade attachment. Process for about 15 seconds.
  • Add the basil, salt and pepper. 
  • With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube and blend until the pesto is pureed well. 
  • Add the parmesan and puree for about 30 seconds.
  • Use immediately or portion into air tight containers filling almost to the top. Add a thin layer of olive oil to the top to seal out any extra air and then secure with lid and freeze. 

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3 thoughts on “Basil Pesto”

  1. Delish. I love this site. My father taught me to freeze pesto in an ice cube tray, then bag the frozen pesto-cubes. This way, we defrost just what’s needed for a small amount of pasta or to dress a grilled chicken sandwich.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for a great recipe @feast&merriment. My girls love pesto so I’ll be making this one definitely. Also to KristinaMarie, love the pesto-cube idea. Pesto on a salami-tomato sandwich…omg.

    Reply

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