The toasted pine nuts, Meyer lemon olive oil, and fresh basil make this basil pesto recipe the absolute best thing to cross your lips. It is rich and nutty, with a brightness from the lemon oil and just a squeeze of juice. Pesto is such a versatile sauce – it goes with pastas, and meats, bread, and pizza. After you taste this recipe, you’ll discover it’s irresistible even right off the spoon.
Pesto can be made in a number of different ways with different ingredients. Some recipes use walnuts or almonds, spinach, or alternate cheese. This basil pesto recipe follows traditional recipes with its pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, basil, and olive oil.
However, I think it gets a serious upgrade with the addition of the toasted goodness of pine nuts and the hint of lemon from a specialty olive oil (affil) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. We love to eat this pesto on grilled pizza and pesto pasta salad.
Table of contents
Basil Pesto Ingredients
- fresh basil
- Meyer lemon olive oil
- pine nuts
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- fresh garlic
Alright, now that we’ve gathered our ingredients, let’s get cooking! Basil pesto is super easy to make. It takes just a few minutes.
Toasting the Pine Nuts
The first step is to toast up the pine nuts. I pop them into the oven and turn it on to 350 degrees. By the time the oven reach its temperature, the nuts are usually done. Watch them carefully so that they don’t burn. You just want them golden brown.
This step isn’t necessary and possibly not even traditional, but it adds so much flavor – a lovely warm nuttiness to the pesto.
You can also toast the pine nuts on the stovetop in a saute pan. Heat the pan and pine nuts without oil, constantly stirring to make sure they don’t burn. Remove them immediately once they are toasted.
Now it’s time to pull out the food processor. Add the pine nuts, the parmesan cheese, and the minced garlic into the food processor. Fresh ingredients make the best pesto – I like to grate parmesan cheese fresh off the block – it makes such a difference!
Pulse the nuts, cheese, and garlic together until a crumbly, even mixture forms. Pile the fresh basil on top.
Emulsifying the Pesto Ingredients
We’re going to process the basil while we simultaneously add the olive oil to keep it fresh and bright and not overly pulverized. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the basil. Then, turn on the food processor and drizzle in a steady stream of olive oil. The mixture will quickly blend into the pesto. Add salt and pulse just once or twice more to incorporate.
You can alternately process everything in the same manner using a blender. Be sure that it has a removable cap in the lid so that you can keep the blender running while drizzling in the olive oil.
Your pesto is READY! That’s all there is to it. Now, go ahead and dip your spoon into that creamy basil pesto recipe and give it a try.
How do I keep leftover pesto fresh?
This recipe will make about 1 cup of pesto. It is a good amount to mix into a large pasta salad. If you use it as a garnish or dipping sauce, you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered jar for up to 5 days. Pour a thin layer of olive oil to coat the pesto and keep it green.
Basil Pesto Recipe
- food processor
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 4 cups fresh basil
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil lemon infused is preferred
- 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon course sea salt
- Toast pine nuts in a 350 degree oven until golden brown (about 5 minutes).
- Pulse toasted pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese in food processor until a course mixture forms.
- Mound basil leaves on top of pine nut mixture.
- Squeeze lemon over basil.
- With food processor running, drizzle olive oil into mixture. The pesto paste should be formed by the time the oil has been fully incorporated.
- Add salt to taste and pulse just once or twice more to mix in.
- Store in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil over the top.