This post is sponsored for NOW Foods. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
This homemade pesto is the perfect condiment and sauce to keep in your fridge at all times! Full of bright flavor and a great addition for pastas, salads, sandwiches and so much more.
For years, I’d hear everyone rave about how much they loved pesto sauce and I never quite understood it until I finally had real authentic homemade pesto! The store-bought jars are okay, but there’s nothing quite like homemade pesto sauce made from herbs from your garden or fresh from the farmers market or grocery store. Making your own homemade pesto sauce not only taste amazing, but it’s super easy to do, has much better ingredients (less fillers) and so much more affordable than buying a high-quality sauce.
This summer our garden went crazy with abundant amounts of fresh basil. I hate wasting fresh produce so this recipe became a weekly favorite and it has so many great uses. I’ve used it in everything from pastas (pairs well with chicken and seafood), sandwiches, on toasted bread with bruschetta, eggs, pizza, and tossed on roasted veggies! It’s truly a super versatile sauce that combines well with so many flavors. I was able to stock pile quite a bit for our freezer as well (it freezes very easily).
This recipe only has a handful of simple ingredients: fresh basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan and garlic (and a few seasonings). With just a few easy steps and 10 minutes, you’ll have delicious fresh pesto on the table! Aside from having fresh basil, one of the most important ingredients to consider is your extra virgin olive oil. My favorite brand olive oil to use is NOW Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The flavor is well-balanced without being overpowering. I love using it in marinades, dressings, sauces and especially for dipping in bread with Italian spices – YUM!
Homemade Basil Pesto
To begin this recipe, make sure to wash your basil really well. I like to fill a bowl and let them soak a few minutes to loosen any dirt that may be stuck to the leaves. I then use a salad spinner (mine is similar to this one), to spin away any residual water.
While the basil is soaking, you can begin by toasting your pine nuts (I use my cast iron skillet…a pan that everyone should have!). While you don’t have to toast them, toasting helps to bring out the flavors a bit more. I used pine nuts as they add a great mild and sweet flavor and their high oil content lends a buttery texture for an ultra delish pesto. Pine nuts, like most nuts, have the added benefits of being a good source of protein, and they also contain thiamin (vitamin B1) and magnesium. If you’re not a fan of pine nuts or don’t have them (you can purchase pine nuts at nowfoods.com or on Amazon — this brand is the most affordable I’ve seen and high quality), you can substitute with walnuts, almonds or even use pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for a nut-free alternative.
Once you prepped your basil and pine nuts, you’re just a few minutes away from delicious homemade basil pesto! Add basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice to food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. While food processor is still running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until well combined. You may need to scrape the bowl occasionally. Finally, add grated parmesan and pulse until mixed. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Enjoy!
Nut-Free: Substitute pepitas instead of pine nuts or walnuts.
Dairy-Free or Vegan: Use nutritional yeast flakes instead of parmesan cheese. Nutritional yeast has a great cheesy flavor, is loaded with B vitamins and is a complete protein source.
Use Different Herbs: While I’d keep the majority basil, you can add in fresh parsley or cilantro for a different flavor profile.
How To Store:
Fresh basil pesto will store in the fridge for up to 5 days. This pesto freezes extremely well and it’s such a treat to have fresh pesto in the winter months. To freeze, place into an airtight, freezer safe container or ziploc freezer bags. Make sure to get out all the air for the freshest, best-tasting results. It can last for up to 6 months if froze properly. When needed, remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator.
You can even freeze small amounts in ice cube trays. Each ice cube is about 2 tablespoons and the perfect amount to pull out and thaw for single dishes. To use ice cubes trays, place pesto in tray, freeze and pop out cubes when completely frozen. Place cubes into airtight freezer bag or container.
What’s your favorite pasta sauce?