As summer comes to a close, I’m realizing I can only enjoy the harvest of my fresh vegetables and herbs for a little while longer without having to freeze and store the extras. My biggest herb harvest came from the basil plants. Three I had planted from little seedlings, and one happened to be one of those store-bought fresh basil plants that actually took to the soil and grew. I hear that doesn’t always happen…in fact, this is the first time the supermarket plant didn’t die on me within two weeks. With all the extra fresh basil on my hands, I figured it was time to make a pesto. I had been craving it for awhile, and store-bought pesto just isn’t that special for me. I’ve always believed that if you can make it tastier at home (and without sacrificing too much time) it’s definitely worth the extra effort to make it yourself!First things first, gather your ingredients. This one’s a simple recipe because it has very few ingredients. You’ll need freshly picked and washed basil, garlic (preferably fresh, but I used jarred minced), walnuts (for those who find that pine nuts are not very budget friendly), lemon juice, Parmesan cheese (not pictured), salt, pepper, and a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Although chopping and cutting is not necessary, I found that the ingredients incorporated quickly and smoothly when they were chopped/cut. A rough chop at your walnuts will help out your blender or food processor in the long run. If you’re feeling fancy, chiffonade your basil and toss that along with the walnuts in the blender. I used my Magic Bullet blender with its smallest cup because this recipe yields a small batch of pesto. For a quick tutorial on how to chiffonade (which is just a fancy way of saying stack your basil together, roll it tightly, and cut into thin ribbons), this video can help you out.
If you’re using fresh garlic, mince one clove. If you couldn’t seem to find the fresh garlic you thought you had (like me), a teaspoon of jarred minced garlic will do the trick in a pinch. Toss the garlic in the blender (or food processor) along with the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If using a food processor, slowly add olive oil while processing until you have reached your desired consistency. If you’re using a blender, add 1/4 cup of olive oil to start off. If the pesto becomes too thick, adding a splash of olive oil will thin it right out.This pesto is smooth and spreadable, bursting with flavors from the garlic and basil. It’s accented with a bit of nuttiness from the walnuts and rounded off with a generous addition of Parmesan cheese. This pesto is perfect mixed in to pasta, or served on a toasted ciabatta roll with grilled chicken and mozzarella cheese.Delicious! What’s your favorite way to use pesto?
Quick and Easy Basil Pesto
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup walnuts chopped
- 1 tsp jarred minced garlic or fresh
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup + extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Using washed and rinsed fresh basil leaves, stack them up and roll lengthwise into a cylinder. Cut basil into strips (see above video for tips on how to chiffonade) and place into a blender or food processor.
- Coarsely chop walnuts and add to blender.
- Add garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
- Begin by adding 1/4 of extra virgin olive oil. If pesto appears to be too thick, gradually add more one tablespoon at a time to loosen up the pesto.
- Spread over toasted bread on a sandwich or add to your favorite cooked pasta and enjoy!