I love pesto! It is so delicious and it can be used to make so many recipes even better. The key to a great pesto is making a fresh pesto. Here I will share with you my easy basil pesto recipe and you will want to add it into your regular meal rotations because it is so full of flavor. I also love that it impresses your guest while being super simple to make.
Easy Basil Pesto Recipe
My mom always made fresh pesto when I was growing up. She also liked to try her hand at funky substitutions such as walnuts for pine nuts. This recipe is for a classic basil pesto. As with most Italian recipes, the key is good fresh ingredients. A few quality ingredients create a fantastic flavor combination.
Pesto Sauce Ingredients
2 cups of basil leaves
1/3 cup of pine nuts
2 large peeled cloves of garlic (or 3 medium cloves)
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
(serves about 8-10 when added to pasta)
I was inspired to share this easy basil pesto recipe with you when I received a sample bottle of Ancient Olive Trees Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I tasted it and it was indeed very flavorful. You can actually taste the fresh olives in the oil. It is made by a California based olive orchard and oil company that takes pride in their tree-to-table craft pressing the olives just hours after picking. I almost always cook with olive oil but I wanted to share the Ancient Olive Trees extra virgin olive oil with you in a recipe where its amazing flavor would get a chance to be a star of the dish. I came up with pesto while I was looking at my huge basil plants in the garden. A few simple quality ingredients make this pesto just divine.
How To Make Basil Pesto Sauce
The directions pretty much are to blend together and you are done but here is the detailed version of that:
First I harvested my basil and then I picked off the leaves (choosing only the pretty green leaves,- no yellow leaves and no flower buds). I dropped the fresh basil leaves into my 2 cup measuring cup. I didn’t pack the leaves down but I gave them a gentle press to ensure there were not air pockets. Now you can rinse and dry your basil leaves.
I added the basil leaves to my Ninja (but you could use a regular blender, food processor, or old fashioned mortar and pestle). I then added the pine nuts, garlic (I pressed them first to ensure no lumps), and parmesan cheese and pulsed. When it was starting to look chopped, I turned it off and scraped down the sides and pulsed again to ensure a smooth pesto with no chunks.
When that mixture looked evenly chopped, I opened my pour spot and poured in the oil slowly while it blended. That helps it become a nice creamy pesto with the olive oil fully incorporated into the pesto.
Pesto will turn brownish if exposed to air for too long so I covered mine with a thin layer of olive oil to keep it protected from oxidation while I prepared my pasta.
The extra olive oil is great as you mix the basil pesto into your pasta. Use about 3/4 cup of pesto sauce per pound of pasta but I usually drop in some pesto and stir and then keep adding and stirring until I am content. Additionally, you can spread it on a sandwich or enjoy with fish. So many possibilities. How will you enjoy this easy basil pesto recipe?
If you have leftover pesto, be sure to store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator.