How to Make Pesto, a classic Italian sauce that has brilliant color and even more brilliant flavor. It’s nutty, salty, fresh, and creamy. You can enjoy it with just about anything and it’s super easy to make. This delicious sauce is the perfect way to use some fresh herbs and add a flavor bomb to your next pasta dish.
I love my little backyard garden. This time of year, my basil production is in full effect. That’s when I like to make a batch of basil pesto sauce. It’s only a few ingredients and the incredible, rich flavor is something I crave all the time.
Pesto is such an important staple for so many people, and I can understand why. While the flavor is big and wonderful, it is a simple sauce that you can easily add to fresh pasta for a satisfying meal with friends and family.
Pesto, an Essential Italian Sauce
You will always find this exquisite sauce on pasta at any Italian restaurant you visit. It relies on high-quality fresh ingredients for the best-tasting traditional results. It is my go-to when I want an amazing pasta experience at home with little effort. I blitz it all in the food processor and voila! I have a simple, tasty dish ready in as long as it takes to boil pasta.
- Pine Nuts – These are used most traditionally and add a nutty flavor that balances the basil. You can also use walnuts or almonds.
- Fresh Basil – A light aroma that tastes slightly sweet with notes of pepper and anise. Its complexity gives the pesto that green pop.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Try to get the best olive oil you can for this recipe. It makes a difference. The bitter, grassiness of good EVO adds to the flavor and helps emulsify it into a creamy texture.
- Parmigiano or Reggiano – This Italian cheese adds saltiness and creaminess.
- Garlic – A couple of cloves of garlic round out the flavor and give some bite. But too much garlic will overpower the sauce.
How to Make Pesto
- Blitz – In a food processor, add pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice, and pulse until chopped, it doesn’t have to be fine.
- Add Basil – Next, add basil, and with the food processor running, pour in olive oil and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
- The Cheese – Add parmesan and Romano cheese, and pulse just until minced.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve fresh with pasta or refrigerate.
- Switch out basil with spinach, cilantro, or another herb of choice. Or you can mix and match.
- Make your pesto a little spicy by adding a few pinches of red pepper flakes.
- You can also substitute pine nuts with almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or pistachios. If you don’t want to use nuts or seeds, you can substitute them with bread crumbs.
- For a vegan pesto, you can add nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese.
Tips and Tricks
- Blanching the basil will give your pesto a brighter color, adding to the allure of your homemade pesto.
- Avoid over-blending your pesto so it doesn’t break its emulsion. If your pesto breaks, you can add some hot water to the mixture to save it.
This sauce comes together easily, so you can make it in large batches and use it throughout the week. Store it in a glass jar to maintain a better flavor.
Serving and Storage Instructions
Pesto is best enjoyed fresh. Cook some pasta and add your pesto to the pan off the heat and enjoy a creamy Italian pasta dish at home. Go ahead and add this sauce to roasted vegetables, sandwiches, or pizza.
Store leftover pesto in a tightly sealed container for up to 4 days in the fridge. You can freeze your pesto for up to 3 months.
Yes! You can use arugula, kale, spinach, or a mixture of green, leafy herbs. A friend of mine even uses herbs she grows in her garden, like nettles and wild amaranth leaves (or callaloo).
No, it should only be warmed by residual heat from whatever dish you add it to.
The basil in the pesto will discolor over time in the fridge, but it is still good to eat. To help with that, you can store your pesto with a layer of olive oil on top to protect the herbs.
What to Serve Pesto With
Pesto goes great with so many dishes. My personal favorite is Chicken Pesto Pasta, but you can spice up about any dish. Another way I like to use it is adding a twist to salad dressing, like adding a spoonful to Caesar or ranch salad dressing.
More Fabulous Sauce Recipes to Try
- Peruvian Green Sauce
- Homemade Buffalo Sauce
- Caribbean Pepper Sauce
This sauce is an easy way to make yourself a high-class Italian meal from the comfort of your home. Use fresh ingredients to make a pesto that is bright and inviting. Try this recipe and tell me about all the wonderful ways you put it to use.
How to Make Pesto
Prep: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Add pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice to a food processor, and pulse until chopped (it doesn’t have to be fine).
Next, add basil and, with the food processor running, pour in olive oil and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
Add the parmesan and romano cheese, and pulse just until minced.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with pasta or refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 3 days. Freeze leftovers for three months.
Serving: 2tablespoons| Calories: 180kcal (9%)| Carbohydrates: 3g (1%)| Protein: 3g (6%)| Fat: 18g (28%)| Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)| Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g| Monounsaturated Fat: 11g| Cholesterol: 4mg (1%)| Sodium: 188mg (8%)| Potassium: 62mg (2%)| Fiber: 1g (4%)| Sugar: 1g (1%)| Vitamin A: 287IU (6%)| Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)| Calcium: 76mg (8%)| Iron: 1mg (6%)
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