Making pesto is a life-skill! This one is easy. A classic basil pesto sauce is perfect in pastas, sandwiches, dips, and more! Homemade pesto is ready in about 5 minutes and can be enjoyed immediately or frozen for later.
When summer hits all I want to do is eat from the garden. I don't have a garden though. HA! However, all the ingredients I need for pesto are at the store, and year round!
One of my favorite ways to preserve all the fresh basil from summer or that big bunch from the store, is to make basil pesto sauce. Pesto freezes like a dream, so I can make batches of it throughout the summer to enjoy all year long.
The recipe I'm sharing with you is my classic basil pine nut pesto. It's a simple, six-ingredient recipe that's easy to customize!
Find my other pesto variations on the blog:
Ingredients in Pesto
Have these ingredients ready to go! Homemade pine nut pesto sauce calls for just six basic ingredients:
- Fresh basil
- Grated Parmesan
- Pine nuts
- Fresh garlic
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
I recommend lightly toasting the pine nuts in a dry skillet or oven prior to blending them into the pesto sauce. Toasting the pine nuts enhances their flavor.
How to Make Basil Pesto Sauce
Basil pesto blends up in minutes using a food processor! Simply add the basil, Parm, pine nuts, garlic, and salt to a food processor and process until finely chopped.
With the motor running, stream the oil into the feed tube. You'll need about ¾ cup oil for this recipe.
Tips for Making Homemade Pesto Sauce
- To intensify the green color of your pesto, blanch the basil for five seconds in boiling water; then shock it in ice water and squeeze dry. I usually skip this step personally.
- I like to keep my pine nuts in the freezer so they don't go rancid. They're a pricier ingredient, so I want to use them up before they go bad!
- For best results, buy a block of Parmesan and grate it yourself. Avoid the pre-grated Parm that comes in a green shaker can. If your store sells grated Parmesan without additives that is also great.
Let me know how it went!
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How to Store Pesto
You can keep the homemade pesto in the fridge for several weeks. I recommend storing it in a jar or another airtight container to keep it fresher for longer.
Can You Freeze Pesto?
Yes! Make a double batch if you have the basil, because it will freeze for up to a month.
I recommend freezing the pesto in ice cube trays, then storing the pesto cubes in a freezer bag. This way, you can thaw the exact amount of pesto you need in the future.
What Can You Substitute for Pine Nuts in Pesto?
If I don't have pine nuts on hand, I use unsalted almonds or walnuts! Even hazelnuts or pistachios are fantastic and I have recipes for those options. The nuts add a buttery, rich texture to pesto, so mixing it up is just fine.
Although pesto is at its best on a good bowl of pasta, I use this classic pesto on grilled shrimp or lamb chops, even steak and chicken. I mix it into tomato soup and spread it on bread when I make sandwiches.
It's really the spread and condiment of the summer. Get creative and let me know how you use it in your meals!
Recipes using pesto:
- 4 cups packed basil leaves
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- ¾ cup (3½ ounces) pine nuts lightly toasted
- 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine all ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil into the feed tube. Use immediately or freeze for up to a month.
Main Dish Recipes
Recipe by Tara Bench. LHJ, Aug 2010. Photo, Prop, Styling Credits Antonis Achilleos and Lindsay Steele, Cyd Raftus McDowell, Paige Hicks