Easy Basil Pesto

007With the recent heat wave, our normally lazy weeknight dinner making ways have ramped up to extraordinarily lazy dinner making ways. Pesto on pasta has been a recent favourite in our house. Even the tall hormonal kid can manage to cook some pasta that we can toss with pesto and call it dinner. Add a salad and some bread and everyone is happy.

The kids have surprised me by their love of this electric green spread/sauce. Normally they absolutely refuse to try something that looks like it might once have been a vegetable (though once they try it, often change their minds). I have no doubt that they would never have tried pesto for me. The secret seems to be to have them try it at their aunt’s house. She has a cool factor that we can’t compete with. Maybe we can return the favour some day. But I have my doubts that the dad and I could ever appear cool. Not even to the niece and nephews.

We were smart this year and planted twice as much basil as last year.  I hope to keep giving the plants a good pruning and make a few more batches for the freezer. We’ve made this a few times already, never exactly the same way twice. It’s easy to change a bit with some additions – we’ve tried adding some sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and spinach. I have some dried chillies that I would like to try in our next batch. It’s a great way to hide a few extras – like spinach – from the kids.

Easy Basil Pesto

Printable Version

  • 8 cups loosely packed basil
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste

Wash and dry basil leaves (I use a salad spinner), add the basil along with the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.

Refrigerate or freeze in airtight containers. This made enough for me to fill 3 small glass jars, leaving a bit of headspace for expansion during freezing.

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19 thoughts on “Easy Basil Pesto

  1. I just happen to have all of tthe ingredients. I will try it tonight.

    • For smaller amounts, it’s pretty easy to halve it. You can also substitute or leave parts of it out altogether according to preference. It’s pretty easy and I have to admit I don’t always measure, just go by what looks and tastes right.

  2. I love pesto and this recipe looks like even I could attempt it. My son who is now 22 was and is the pickiest eater in the world–but if you mixed pesto with butter he would eat it for lunch spread on bread–don’t ask me why–I never questioned it–I was just happy to find one more thing that he liked!

  3. Sarah says:

    I just made this. Thank you Heidi, it’s perfect. But I really need a salad spinner I see…..

  4. Ange says:

    I just discovered pesto a couple weeks ago. We love it. Our favourite is as a spread on a chicken Panini. I looked into making pesto, and a lot of things I read said not to add parmesan if you were freezing it. Have you successfully frozen this in the past? (I much prefer hearing from someone who has “been there, done that” than just reading a random recipe that tells me to do something, or not to do something)
    Thanks!

  5. Kerry says:

    I always am meaning to try my own pesto-making…. Maybe this will be the recipe!
    Cute jars/lids, too!!

  6. Alia says:

    Sounds delicious, Heidi!

  7. Lynne Ayers says:

    “With the recent heat wave, our normally lazy week-night dinner making ways have ramped up to extraordinarily lazy dinner making ways. ” LOL I can relate to that,Heidi, and since we don’t have kids to keep healthy I bet our extraordinarily lazy dinner making ways beat yours! 🙂

  8. I was going to ask how long it might last, but of course, freezing it is the answer.

  9. chef mimi says:

    I’ve never included lemon juice! Very interesting!

  10. Jennifer says:

    Oh Heidi, I am so going to make this! I got some fresh basil at the market just this weekend! Thanks for all the comments on my blog. Good to hear you are feeling good enough to make some yummy pesto!

  11. A good recipe Heidi. We do well with sweet basil at the allotments and when we have a glut we are all turning it into pesto. I’ll try adding the lemon juice next time to add some zing.

  12. Roar Sweetly says:

    We had a huge crop of basil (up until a month ago when it rained solidly for two weeks) and lived on homemade pesto pasta several times a week. I didn’t really follow a recipe… just made it ‘intuitively’ using the same ingredients you’ve mentioned above and often adding a couple of tablespoons of cream at the end to make it creamier. I found it never tasted as good after being refrigerated, but wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong. We’ve just prepped the garden bed for fresh seedlings…this post makes me want to get cracking.

  13. […] peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and swiss chard picked from the garden. All we added was some homemade pesto and some cream and dinner was ready. The dad thought I should take a photo of it because it was so […]

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