Making Fresh Basil Pesto

I love pesto.  I love pesto on everything and anything, but particularly on bread or pasta (carbs!).  Our love affair is fairly recent.  I may have mentioned that I used to be a picky eater, and pesto was definitely on my “suspect” list.   Oh how I lament those wasted years.  Somehow, yesterday was my first time to make pesto myself – how could I have gone so long without attempting pesto!?  It was shockingly easy.  I will treat this recipe with love and respect and will probably bring it out for every possible special occasion.

Side note, it was a lovely day yesterday. We went for a  walk to enjoy the warm weather and then sat and did the crossword while sipping a beer outside. You really can’t beat that.  I got so excited for all of the good things spring and summer bring – sidewalk cafes, ice cream, farmers markets…. particularly farmers markets.  I bet I could buy a bunch of basil at a farmers market and then make pesto all summer long. I think that sounds like a plan.

Fresh Basil Pesto (adapted from the Basil Pesto Recipe at Food Network)

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (I used a mix of the 2)

If you do not have a food processor, don’t fret! You can chop all of the ingredients and then combine with the oil in a mixing bowl. But I do have a food processor and I was feeling lazy. Also, a note on the pine nuts. They are expensive, and they come in large packages. I am not sure when I’ll be cooking with them again, and I didn’t really want to spend $8 on a package. So, I went to the “make your own trail mix” section at Whole Foods. I measured out what looked to be a small handful, and it was around $1.50. I had some left over too. I was pretty scared when walking up to the register, because they didn’t have any scales readily available and the price per pound was like $28. I thought it could go horribly wrong really quickly, but it didn’t!

I pulsed around 5 times on its own to begin.

Add the raw pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper and cheese,

Pulse until moderately blended. I would recommend pulsing as opposed to just blending or pureeing because the chunkiness of the ingredients is what makes each bite so interesting. I like my pesto very chunky. You can blend to your desired consistency and I might not even judge you if it’s not how I like it. Maybe.

Slowly add olive oil, continuing to pulse.

Just like that, you have pesto! It was delicious spread on some leftover naan we had lying around.

I can’t recommend this recipe enough.  As far as I have seen, it is a very traditional pesto, and I’m looking forward to mixing it up next time with some new ingredients!


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10 thoughts on “Making Fresh Basil Pesto

  1. I love pesto, too! The chunky-ness of yours looks particularly delicious. One year I had an apartment with garden space, so I grew basil out there and made a bumper crop of pesto at the end of summer, and then I froze the pesto in ice cube trays so that I could toss it into whatever I was cooking. They froze really well!

  2. Totally with you–I didn’t particularly like pesto but then, after I tried homemade, I realized it was prepared ones I didn’t really fancy.
    Yours looks amazing. I agree with Eileen above–the chunky-ness makes this totalllly appealing.

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