Easy Basil Pesto

Though I may not be able to take care of a basil plant from my top-floor city apartment, I sure do love to chop up those gorgeous green leaves for a salad, pasta dish or pesto. Just look at that color! That isn’t Photoshop, folks.

Okay, maybe it’s a little Photoshop.

Basil pesto, if you’re unfamiliar, is just a ground up mixture of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic cloves and olive oil. It tastes very fresh, smooth and a little nutty, and it is deeee-lish on a slice of Italian bread, mixed into pasta, spread on a pizza, sandwiches, potatoes and grilled meat and vegetables, or as a marinade or stuffing for meat, chicken and fish. There are limitless things you can do with a little glob of this green spread!

Best of all, pesto is SO simple to make. Here, I’ll show you how:

… Just pack some freshly rinsed basil, pine nuts and whole garlic cloves into your food processor that is inevitably larger, shinier and overall nicer than mine (This sucker’s on its last legs)…

… Whiz them all together, then pause that awesome mixing action and drizzle in a little olive oil. Once you’re ready to use the pesto, grate in some fresh Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and there you have it!

Presto, it’s pesto!

The whole reason I made basil pesto in the first place was because I’m hightailin’ it to Texas tonight and had truckloads of basil and pine nuts that I didn’t want to waste. So, if you also don’t plan on using the pesto right away, you can freeze it in an airtight container for up to three months. But, let’s be honest, is it really going to take you three months to gobble up this basil pesto in all its delicious green gorgeousness?

I’ll answer that for you: No.

Like I said above, you can get creative and add pesto to all kinds of different dishes. You can also add a little lemon zest to it for a brighter, citrusy flavor, toast the pine nuts for a deeper, nuttier flavor, or swap them out for almonds. Just have fun with it!

Enjoy this pesto and enjoy your upcoming weekend, everybody! If I’m not overstuffed with Texas BBQ, sunburned to a crisp and jetlagged, I’ll be back on Monday with another recipe for you.

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PrintPrint Recipe

Easy Basil Pesto

Yield: Makes 1 cup


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an airtight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.


Adapted from Food Network


17 Responses to “Easy Basil Pesto”

  1. #
    Georgia — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    Hi Debbie,

    Thanks very much for your kind comment! I was visiting Austin, and it was one of the funnest vacations I’ve ever had.

    Thanks for visiting!

  2. #
    Jennifer — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    I’ll have to make your recipe with the last of my basil.

  3. #
    Baking Serendipity — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    I love basil! Yours is the perfect green color :) Enjoy Texas!

  4. #
    Betty @ Scrambled hen fruit — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    So green and beautiful! Homemade pesto is the best, and your recipe looks wonderful. Just the thing to use up that basil which will soon be gone!

  5. #
    Jenn's Food Journey — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    Beautiful! I love pesto of any kind!

  6. #
    Katrina — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    I’ve never made my own pesto, and this recipe looks delicious!

  7. #
    Monet — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    Have such a safe trip! Enjoy Texas while I take a little trip to Colorado. I’m sure anxious to get out of the heat. Thanks for sharing such a simple yet delicious pasta sauce. Pesto sauce is so good…if only pine nuts weren’t so expensive!

  8. #
    Debbie — January 10, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    I love the pictures, photoshop or not. I have those same measuring cups, I don’t know why that is exciting to me :-) Where are you heading in Texas?

  9. #
    Sarah@buttered-up.com — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    This looks really amazing and so simple. I’m bookmarking this.

  10. #
    Pam — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Basil pesto is my favorite! Excellent photos.

  11. #
    Pretty. Good. Food. — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    so simple but oh so good!!!

  12. #
    Angie's Recipes — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Talk about the beautiful photos! I want to dip my head into that bowl of pesto!

  13. #
    Georgia — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Wow, a prince of pesto! Tell him I appreciate his critique ;)

    Yes, basil isn’t cheap to buy as-needed, but I’ve tried many times to grow it indoors with no success. Ah well, that’s apartment living!

  14. #
    Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Welcome to Texas…what part are you going to be in? I live in San Antonio…but I’m originally from the Houston area. That is the prettiest basil I’ve seen in ages. I should make pesto as homemade is so much tastier than the stuff in the jar!

  15. #
    StephenC — January 10, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    I am blessed to share my life with someone who is the prince of pesto. He heartily approves of your recipe, ’cause it’s just precisely what pesto is and should be. Man-oh-man, if you could get some basil plants going on your rooftop – whew, packages of basil in the supermarket are expensive!

  16. #
    Lizzie in Los Angeles — March 9, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

    I was looking for a classic pesto recipe — not as much for the ingredients (duh) but for the proportions. Voila! Also a recipe that uses basil, not all sorts of other “strange greenery.” While I have nothing against “strange greenery” I want my pesto to taste like basil. TYVM.

  17. #
    Anonymous — March 20, 2012 @ 1:26 am

    Thank you for the recipe! I am actually going to try this. I’ve become soo creative since I’ve bought a food processor last week. Yippeee!

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