Homemade Basil Pesto is an easy sauce made from fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese with extra virgin olive oil added in. It can be made a head of time in just 10 minutes or less and stored in the refrigerator for use as needed. This Basil Pesto can be a lifesaver after a long day of work when you’re trying to beat the clock to get a meal on the table. Trust me, and I’ve been there a time or two. Just boil up some pasta from the cupboard, and toss this pesto over it for instant yum!
Basil is actually an herb in the mint family and is familiar with Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. This quick sauce delivers basil and has tremendous health benefits outside of the tremendous flavor. Most notably, basil comes to your plate with many benefits of antioxidants that are necessary to remove all of those nasty cancer-causing free radicals, plus it provides a good dose of vitamin K and calcium.
Trust me when I say that you need to pony up the extra money to get both the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and pine nuts for the recipe. The ingredients for this basil pesto are so pure and simple that each component adds an impact that will fall flat if you don’t commit to using the highest quality possible. While these ingredients can be pricy at the store, the extra investment will pay a big dividend.
Homemade Basil Pesto Ingredients
- Fresh basil leaves-lightly packed
- Cloves of garlic
- Zest of lemon
- Lemon juice
- Parmesan cheese
- Pine nuts
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
So Easy To Make
In a food processor, add the basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes. Pulse one or two times to get the mixture to blend and break down.
Then, turn the food processor on and stream in the extra virgin olive oil to get the ingredients to emulsify with the oil.
As you continue to add the olive oil, you’ll see that the mixture starts to become loose. You want the pesto sauce to be the consistency of watery ketchup.
Taste the pesto and adjust if you need to add more garlic or parmesan. DO NOT add salt because the cheese already leans that direction, and you traditionally cook pasta in salt water, so you don’t want the combination to be too salty!
If you are going to use it now, boil some pasta. Take the pesto and mix it in the pasta until the noodles are well coated. Sprinkle a touch more parmesan on top of the pesto pasta, and enjoy!
If you like this recipe then you will love my other pasta dishes like:
Tips and Tricks
- The Basil Pesto Sauce will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. If you have not used it, you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays then transfer it to a zip lock back until you need them.
- Make Pesto ahead of time so it can be your go-to if you need to get a quick dinner to the table. This is on my weekly prep list just about every week, and I store it in a mason jar in the refrigerator.
- As a side note, my family loves a little spice, so I always add a few red pepper flakes to the food processor. A little goes a very long way, so don’t get heavy-handed here, or you will hear non-stop complaints of it being too spicy!
- Basil Pesto is so versatile that it’s a quick go-to for recipes add-in like in minestrone or spread across toasted bread or as a pizza topping.
The Final Product
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves-lightly packed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp lemon Zest
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cups toasted pine nuts
- 1 Cup Olive Oil (Good Variety)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes ( see notes)
- Grab the food processor, add the basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes.
- Pulse one or two times to get the mixture to start to blend and break down.
- Then turn food processor to on and stream in the extra virgin olive oil to get the the ingredients to emulsify with the oil. You want the the sauce to be the consistency of ketchup.
- Taste the pesto and adjust if you need a bit more garlic or parmesan. Do not add salt because the cheese already leans that direction and you traditionally cook pasta in salt water so you do not want the combination to be too salty!
- Put in a small mason jar and store in the refrigerator for use.
Storage: The basil pesto sauce stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. If you have not used it by then you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays then transferred to a zip lock back until you need them.
Optional, but I add a bit of red pepper flakes to the food processor. It adds a greater depth to the sauce. A little goes a very long way so do not get heavy handed here or you will hear non-stop complaints it is too spicy!
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