Pesto is an all time favorite choice when cooking pasta, but it is also good for sandwiches, pizza and zucchini noodles.
For a plus of savour in your recipes, homemade pesto is a quick, easy to make sauce. The most delicious pesto tastes fresh, herbal, nutty, garlicky and luxurious. It originated in Liguria, Italy, where pesto is made in a mortar and pestle.
Keeping a jar of pesto in your fridge can be a life saver for busy weeknights and you can control exactly how runny or thick you want your pesto to be. Just be sure to add more olive oil until your desired consistency is reached.
About the ingredients, the safest fresh basil supply is the one from your own garden, the farmer’s market, or the potted basil from grocery stores. The pine nuts are traditional for pesto, but since they can be quite expensive, the alternatives can be raw almonds, pecans or walnuts. Parmesan anises the flavour of the basil and since it is not vegetarian, but you are, then use a vegetarian variaty or nutritional yeast which also works for vegans. The aroma of the sauce is given by garlic, the bitterness of the basil is reduced with salt and extra-virgin olive oil is always a must. As an option, a bit of lemon juice can lighten up the flavour.
- 40g raw pine nuts, almonds, walnuts or pecans
- 2 large bunches fresh basil leaves
- 24g grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3g fine sea salt
- 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- (Optional) Toast the nuts or seeds for extra flavor: In a medium skillet, toast the nuts/seeds over medium heat, stirring frequently, until nice and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour them into a bowl to cool for a few minutes.
- To make the pesto, combine the basil, cooled nuts/seeds, Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue processing until the mixture is well blended but still has some texture, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Taste, and adjust if necessary. Add a pinch of salt if the basil tastes too bitter or the pesto needs more zing. Add more Parmesan if you’d like a creamier/cheesier pesto. If desired, you can thin out the pesto with more olive oil. (Consider, however, that if you’re serving the pesto on pasta, you can thin it with small splashes of reserved pasta cooking water to bring it all together.)
- Store leftover pesto in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week. You can also freeze pesto into a freezer bag.