This classic Basil Pesto recipe is simple to make at home and so much better than store bought. It really only just takes minutes in a small food processor to make a vibrant green, flavourful sauce that can be used in so many ways.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Spread pine nuts on baking tray and toast for 5 minutes until starting to colour. Allow to cool.
In a mini food processor, place pine nuts, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt.
Pulse until finely chopped into a paste. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
Add extra virgin olive oil and pulse again until combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides when needed.
Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
See notes for variations, storage and use.
While traditionalists would be horrified, pesto doesn't have to only use basil. Variations can be made by using different herbs, hard cheeses, nuts and oils. Try adding some parsley or mint OR make it with all parsley or even spinach. Walnuts, pecans or macadamias all make good variations on the traditional pine nuts. While oils such as macadamia, avocado or flavoured oils make a delicious change. Use your favourite hard cheese - maybe Romano, pecorino or asiago.
How to store
This sauce can be stored for 7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To prevent discolouring, press down and smooth the surface before pouring over a thin layer of oil.
Can pesto be frozen?
Pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays or my preferred method is in mini clip seal bags for up to 3 months.
Basil Pesto is traditionally served with tagliatelle pasta but this sauce is so versatile, you'll find lots of ways to eat it. To begin, here are a few serving suggestions.
mix with sour cream and serve with crackers and vegetable sticks
accompaniment to grilled or roast chicken or barbecue meats
dollop on steamed or boiled potatoes
stir through minestrone
spread on a pizza base
add to pasta salads
Nutritional value is based on 2 tablespoons per serving