In the world of simple pasta sauces, basil pesto has to be pretty close to the top.  There is essentially no cooking required, the ingredients are widely available, and once you learn the basic method, you can swap out different ingredients to “spice things up”.  In this recipe video, I show you how to make a fairly traditional version.  The bright green of the basil, makes a great presentation, and the combination of ingredients tastes absolutely awesome.

Ingredients for Pesto (3 – 4 servings)

  • 2 – 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • Fresh lemon juice

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

  1. Use fresh and high quality ingredients.  This sauce isn’t cooked, and has only a few ingredients, they each need to shine.
  2. Make adjustments to get a good balance.  The measurements are guidelines; taste the pesto as you go, and if you think it needs at bit more of something, add it
  3. Blending the pesto can be tricky because the blender (or food processor) needs a bit of liquid to work well, but you don’t want to water-down your pesto.  Start with a little olive oil and water and you can add more as you go
  4. Blend until smooth…those pesky little pine nuts can sometimes dodge the blades and stay whole.  Make sure you go long enough and scrape down the sides to get it nicely blended together

Making the Pesto

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and blanch the basil leaves for 30 – 40 seconds; or until wilted
  • Remove the leaves to an cold water/ice bath to stop the cooking process and set the color, and then to a paper towel to pat them dry
  • Add the basil to the blender(or food processor) along with a tablespoon of olive oil, the pine nuts, garlic, cheese, and a small squeeze of lemon juice
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Pulse the blender to start mixing the ingredients.  If needed, you can add more olive oil or water a tablespoon at a time between pulses until everything starts turning
  • Once combined, give the pesto a taste.  It should obviously taste like basil, but you should also pick up the garlic and olive oil.  The ground cheese and nuts should give it an almost creamy quality, and the lemon just a bit of brightness and bite
  • Adjust the seasoning as needed and re-blend
  • You can transfer to a blow and hold for a few hours in the fridge, but cover it with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t lose its bright green color

This basil pesto makes a great pasta sauce, but it’s also awesome on pizza, sandwiches and a hundred other things.

Hope you enjoy, and leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

Total Time: 
20minutes
Prep Time: 
20minutes
Cuisine: 
Italian
Main Ingredient: