Basil pesto is a vibrant and fresh herb sauce, made with pesto, pine nuts, and olive oil. When purchased ready to eat, jarred pesto can be expensive, but fresh, homemade basil pesto is very inexpensive to make, and it tastes better, too.
I grow a lot of basil in the summer. Trader Joe’s has big plants for sale for $3 and I can’t resist buying a new one every couple of weeks to stick somewhere in my garden. Basil is great in and on so many of the dishes I make in the summer, but nothing beats pesto! Pesto is so fast and easy, you can pretty much make it while waiting for the water to boil for the pasta. It’s a favorite in our house during the summer.
The French or Provencal version of pesto is called “Pistou“. Pistou is usually added into soups just before serving, for a little blast of flavor. Pistou is a little different, in that it doesn’t usually include pine nuts or cheese. I’ll be making a Provencal Winter Soup with pistou in it, as soon as the weather turns.
To save your summer basil, make pesto or pistou. Freeze in ice cube trays, then place the cubes inside baggies, for use later in the season.
OK, so this is another one of those recipes that I never measure ingredients for. If you and I were cooking together, (I’ll make the salad, you make the pesto. There’s a loaf of homemade rosemary-kalamata olive bread baking. Can you smell it?) we’d be drinking some wine, chatting about our day and we’d be exchanging tastes of food. You’d hand me a spoon, “More garlic?” you’d ask me. For this recipe especially, use the best cheese you can afford, not the “green box”; Pecorino-Romano, or Reggiano Parmigiano, (parmesan).
Yep, that’s how it would be, and together we’d decide, more cheese, more garlic, more salt, more wine? (In the glasses, not the pesto) But I can’t be there. Well, I could be, but the plane ticket would be awfully expensive. Especially if I visit those of you in the UK.
So trust your palate, and give it a whirl! You’ll love this fresh basil pesto!
- 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves stems removed
- 2-3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/4 cup pine nuts lightly toasted
- 1/2 olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino or parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- In a food processor fitted with blade, process basil leaves, and pine nuts with a few pulses.
- With food processor running, add garlic cloves, and slowly drizzle olive oil, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add cheese, and pulse for a few seconds, taste and adjust seasoning, adding black pepper and salt if necessary.
- Store in the refrigerator, covered for up to a week.