Basil pesto is a vibrant and fresh herb sauce, made with pesto, pine nuts, and olive oil. Purchased ready to eat, jarred pesto can be expensive, but fresh, homemade basil pesto is much cheaper 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. You can read more about basil here.(This post was originally published on July 31, 2011 and has been updated to contain nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases)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.
What is pesto?
Pesto is a traditional Italian dish from Northern Italy. Genoa gets the credit for this delicious concoction. The word “pesto” means “to crush or pound”. Hence the similarity to the word “pestle”. The pestle is the object used to crush seeds, nuts or herbs. The authentic and traditional way to make pesto is with a mortar and pestle. I’m all for traditional methods, but it’s just not super practical. Because it’s so much faster and easier, I use a food processor. While there can be other types of pesto, like this one made with Sundried Tomatoes and Pistachios, the pesto we’re most familiar with is Pesto alla Genovese, or what we know as “basil pesto”. In addition to basil, pesto requires a good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts.
Can you make pesto dairy free?
Sure! You can certainly omit the Parmigiano-Reggiano when you make pesto, but then you’ll have pistou. (Read on)
What is the difference between pistou and pesto?
The French or Provençal 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 Mediterranean Soup with with pistou in it, as soon as the weather turns.
How to freeze pesto
To save your summer basil, make pesto or pistou. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then place the cubes inside baggies, for use later in the season.
What can you do with pesto?
How is pesto made?
Traditionally pesto is made with a mortar and pestle. For a truly authentic version, you can use one. There will be a difference in texture and taste, but I like the ease and speed of the food processor.
Fresh Homemade Basil Pesto
- 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.