Pesto, how I love you. Let me count the ways. It has not been a long love affair, considering I only tried pesto for the first time last year, but it is an intense love. I try to make it as often as my basil plants allow me to because I just can’t get enough of pesto. Luckily for me (& you), basil is a plentiful plant & pesto could not be easier to make. You can certainly make pesto using basil from the store, but it sure is pricey. Whereas, a basil plant will keep you basil wealthy. More on growing basil later, but first, let’s get to that basil pesto recipe.
- ⅓ cup of pine nuts
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup of grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup of olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pinenuts in the oven until golden brown for 6-8 minutes.
- Place garlic in the food processor & pulse until minced.
- Add in toasted pine nuts & parmesan cheese. Give it a few rough pulses.
- Throw basil leaves into the mixture. Pulse until the leaves are chopped.
- Add in olive oil, salt & pepper to the mixture. Pulse until smooth.
- Pinenuts can sometimes be a little hard to find & pricey too. Almonds are easier to find & a cheaper substitute.
- Add the pesto to pasta, toasted bread, use as a dip, make white lasagna, etc. Pesto makes for a delicious addition to so many dishes & the possibilities are endless.
- Pesto can be frozen for months at a time. I like to double the recipe & save half the batch in the freezer for quick & scrumptious future meals.
I have praised basil up & down & all around town on my website. I really can’t get enough of it, so it really was love at first taste when I first got around to making pesto last year. It’s a gamechanger for sure. Pair that with my love of all things pasta & pesto really is my perfect match. I love that besides the toasting the pinenuts step, the entire recipe is all made in one appliance, which means a minimum of mess for me to clean up. While I am certainly no stranger to complicated baking recipes, I like to keep my meal recipes simple, so this pesto recipe is one of my go-to’s.
All basil is not created equal though. I have grown my fair share of basil plants with varying results. So far, my absolute favorite basil variety to grow has been Amazel Basil. I wasn’t able to get my hands on it this year, but it produced like no one’s business for me last year. It basically looked like I was growing a shrub in my raised bed veggie garden last year, that’s how big it got. It seemed like last summer was one long basil harvest in retrospect due to Amazel. Genovese Basil is another favorite variety of mine. It is also super easy to find in stores, easy to grow & it has a classic basil taste. Thai Basil is another delicious variety with a spicy kick that brings a lot of flavor to dishes.
Basil needs full sun to produce properly, so make sure to find a sunny spot for it outdoors. In the past, I planted two basil plants of the same variety in two different areas of my raised bed veggie garden. The plant that got more sun was double the size of it’s less sun counterpart. Ever since then I have tried to give my basil plants as much sun as possible. I haven’t had much luck growing basil indoors without a grow light, even near a south-facing window, but your results may vary. However, I have had a lot of success growing Genovese Basil & Thai Basil in my AeroGarden Harvest. It has been over 7 months since I started my AeroGarden & the basil plants are still growing strong. It is also a really great container plant for those with container gardening needs. One of the best things about growing plants in containers is the ability to pick them up & place them in better conditions. Is your container basil plant not getting enough sun? Move the pot to a sunnier location. Moving plants is a bit dicier when you have to transplant them.
Basil is also very easy to propagate (read my basil propagation tutorial), so one never has to have just one plant, even on a budget. I recommend growing more than one plant, especially if you want to make a lot of pesto. However, my best advice for growing a lot of basil is to harvest & keep on harvesting. Generally, the more you harvest the more it grows, just make sure to not remove more than 25% of the plant at one time. All you need to do is clip the stem right above two leaves & those two leaves will grow into two branches. One cut doubles the number of basil leaves you can grow.
More basil means more pesto & I want your life to be pestoful too. Plus, like with almost everything you grow yourself, homegrown basil knocks grocery store right out of the water. There really is no comparison since homegrown basil is jam-packed with flavor. I have tasted some grocery store basil that was so bland it almost tasted like spinach. No shade to spinach, but I don’t want to pay basil prices for it. Go get yourself a basil plant if you don’t have one already & get to growing, so you can get to cooking! Your tastebuds will thank you.
Like this recipe? Check out my other basil recipes: pepperoni, mushroom & basil pizza, grilled cheeseburgers with homegrown tomatoes & basil & basil limeade with strawberries.