Fresh Basil Pesto
This simple and easy fresh basil pesto is perfect for week night dinners! Toss it with freshly cooked pasta, spread it on BLT’s, or serve it alongside grilled chicken or steak.
Pesto is a staple in our house, especially during the spring and summer. We love blending up fresh basil with whatever toasted nuts we have in our pantry. Usually we stick with walnuts or pistachios, today’s pesto includes the latter. While the pesto we make usually goes on a bed of freshly cooked pasta, we love using it on BLT’s, grilled chicken or steamed vegetables. It’s so versatile!
This year we decided to make a small spot in our planter to grow a few things. It was such a great idea! Our basil plant is about 5x the size it was when we planted it and has given us enough basil to make at least 10 batches of pesto over the summer! If you don’t like basil you can always use parsley or cooked green peas. Just use the same amount (2 cups) as you would the basil.
First things first, toast your nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. Traditionally pine nuts are used, but we prefer the flavor of walnuts, pecans or pistachios… plus they’re a lot cheaper! While the nuts are cooling, wash up your basil or greens and pat dry. Place the basil in a blender or food processor first that way the weight of the other ingredients helps push the basil into the blades of the machine. Then add two whole cloves of garlic, the toasted nuts, 1/4 c. of high quality extra-virgin olive oil (this is my favorite), and 2 tbsp. of melted butter. I like to add butter in place of 2 tbsp. of olive oil because I think it gives the pesto more flavor.
Add a nice scoop of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (or save it and fold it in at the end, whichever you prefer) and blend away. Once the mixture looks coarse, add the remaining 1/4 c. of olive oil and blend until smooth.
The pesto should be incredibly vibrant and fragrant. As it sits, you should see a little bit of separation… that’s perfectly fine!
Toss it with some freshly cooked pasta or use it on whatever you’d like! It’s a great way to add flavor to any dish and can be frozen and used throughout the winter! We absolutely love this no-cook sauce and make it time and time again! It’s so quick, easy and simple- perfect for weeknight dinners or meals on the go!
Fresh Basil Pesto
- 2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 c. toasted nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, pecans or pistachios)
- 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cool to the touch
- 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
- In a food processor or blender, layer the ingredients starting with the basil, then the garlic, toasted nuts, 1/4 c. of the olive oil and the butter. Pulse/blend until a coarse mixture forms, then add the remaining 1/4 c. of olive oil along with the salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the cheese. You can also set the cheese aside to be added at the very end. Continue to pulse/blend until smooth, then pour the pesto into a bowl and (fold in the grated cheese if reserved) toss with freshly cooked pasta. Serve immediately.