I could eat pesto by the spoonful, and trust me, I do! There is something so special that happens when you combine fresh basil leaves with pine nuts, some incredible tasting Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and some salt and pepper. It’s most definitely foodie heaven! Whip up a batch in your food processor or blender, and watch the vibrant fresh green magic take place in a snap. It’s so magnificent tossed with your favorite pasta, or spread onto a sandwich or a pizza, or stuffed into mushroom appetizer. Or, anything you can imagine. It’s just plain sumptuous!
With the giant bunches of basil I found at my local farmers market, Im taking an afternoon to make some batches of pesto that I can freeze for many dishes. And for the batches I’m freezing, I just leave out the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Then, when I’m ready to use, I’ll fold in the cheese. To freeze, you can place the pesto right into ice cube trays or sealable plastic bags. It’s the ideal way to enjoy your pesto all year long.
Pesto can also be made with other greens or herbs like cilantro. You can use walnuts in place of the traditional pine nuts. Or try toasting the nuts for an additional depth of flavor. For the best results, I always, always use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It’s the king of parmesan cheese! And, since there are only a few ingredients in pesto, you’ll want to use the best. Make sure to use an excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil too. It really makes such a difference.
What’s your favorite way to make pesto?
Basil is so plentiful right now!
Toast the pine nuts for an additional depth of flavor.
Place the basil with nuts, cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.
Blend continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped.
Perfect Pesto Recipe from Stranded Foodie
Makes around 1 cup
- 5-6 ounces (2 healthy bunches or about 6 cups gently packed) basil leaves, or any other green (I fill my food processor bowl almost to the top)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, or you can use walnuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1-2 large garlic cloves (add more if you really like garlic)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I add a couple of grinds)
- 1/4-1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
Food processor or blender (if using blender, make in two batches if necessary)
Directions: Place the basil with nuts, cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of bowl as needed.
Stream in the Olive Oil: With the blender running, stream in the olive oil. Less olive oil will make a paste good for spreading on sandwiches and pizzas; more will make a sauce better for pastas and stirring into soup. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue blending as needed until the olive oil is emulsified into the basil and the pesto looks uniform. I prefer a little texture in my pesto.
Taste and Adjust: Taste the pesto and add more garlic, salt, pepper, or cheese to taste if needed.
Storing Pesto: Pesto will darken and brown very quickly, but will still be tasty and fresh for several days. For best appearance, use it right away. If storing, store it in the smallest container possible and thoroughly press the pesto to eliminate air pockets. Pour a little olive oil over the surface, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.
Spread it on sandwiches, toss it with pasta, or yes, treat yourself a single happy spoonful, but definitely absolutely positively make pesto any chance you get.