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Well, I finally harvested the garden basil to make this homemade pesto recipe. I have been snipping buds off it for several weeks to force more growth into the leaves but the plant was getting HUGE. I snipped off most of the branches about 3/4 of the way down the stalk but left some of the plants to continue growing.
This easy basil pesto is made with simple, all-natural ingredients and is easy to freeze for long-term storage. Loaded with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, this homemade pesto is perfect tossed with pasta or used as a topping for homemade pizza.
What is Pesto?
The original pesto recipe was made with basil, coarse salt, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts (sometimes toasted), and grated cheese like Parmesan (if you want a unique twist, check out my Parsley Pesto instead!). I have seen many variations over the years. Making pesto with walnuts is a good way to cut the cost since pine nuts are so expensive (and we should be eating more walnuts for better health anyhow!).
You can also make lettuce pesto or even pesto with other herbs like parsley. Typically, homemade pesto is served mixed with pasta, although I find it delicious slathered on a piece of Italian bread that is lightly toasted.
You can also use it as a sauce on homemade pizza. I keep a jar of pesto in the fridge for nights when I am in a hurry. Just dump on some pasta and serve with raw veggies for an easy weeknight meal.
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Fresh Pesto Ingredients
Don’t skimp on the ingredients for this homemade pesto. Here are the ingredients I used for making this simple pasta sauce:
- Fresh basil leaves (about 3 cups)
- Pine nuts
- Fresh garlic
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
If you are looking for more simple pasta sauces, try my Creamy Spinach Pasta Sauce Recipe. It has a slightly more mild flavor since it blends both spinach and basil together with the other ingredients.
Tips For Making Homemade Pesto
We have another month or so of hot weather so I may be able to get one more small harvest of my garden basil at the end of September. I am looking forward to a few more batches of pesto this summer. It’s incredibly easy to make and we all love it.
Here are a few things I have learned about making homemade pesto:
- Make sure you rinse your basil before making your homemade pesto! Next time I am going to have to remember to shake out the cuttings and spray them outside with the hose because I brought a TON of little tiny hopper-type bugs into my kitchen!
- Pick in the morning: Garden basil has the most flavor first thing in the morning.
- Use a food processor: This is the easiest way to puree your pesto recipe. Just don’t make it TOO smooth. I like a bit of texture!
- Freeze it back. I measure it out into 1/3 cup serving sizes and freeze them. It is GREAT to spread on French bread pizza!! I do this in my food processor but a blender might work, too, just do smaller batches! The original recipe said to use a mortar and pestle but that is NOT going to happen!
More Basil Recipes
Want to make your own homemade pesto? Check out my article about edible gardening and start growing your own basil. If you are not sure how to get started, buy a basil growing kit. Then, check out these other delicious basil recipes:
- Fresh Blueberry Tart Recipe with Basil and Honey
- Watermelon Salad Recipe with Basil and Feta
- White Bean Cherry Tomato Salad
Ways to use up fresh pesto
Now that you have made fresh basil pesto, what will you do with it? Of course, putting it on pasta is simple and delicious but there are a ton of other ways to use it.
Here are a few ways to use up fresh pesto
- Add it to scrambled eggs
- Use it as a pizza sauce
- Make a pesto grilled cheese sandwich
- Toss it with roasted vegetables
- Mix it into mayo or sour cream for a dip or sandwich spread
- Stir it into homemade soup
- Drizzle it over grilled chicken or fish
- Dollop it on top of a bowl of chili
The possibilities are endless! Get creative and enjoy your homemade pesto in lots of different ways.
Homemade Pesto Recipe
This easy homemade basil pesto is made with simple, fresh ingredients. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and is so much better than store-bought! Freeze it back in 1/3 cup (more or less…) and you can have fresh pesto all year round!
- 6 ounces basil leaves (about 3 cups)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 7 cloves fresh garlic
- 8 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 4 TBSP softened butter
- 1 tsp salt
- Put basil, pine nuts and garlic into bowl of food processor. Add salt and cheese and pulse until a thick paste starts to form.
- Trickle in olive oil and continue to pulse. Add butter and process to not quite smooth.
- Measure out and freeze or use as a sauce for pasta or a topping for garlic bread. 1/3 cup of pesto is enough for about 3/4 of a pound of pasta.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 570mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information not always accurate
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.