Pesto is an Italian sauce jammed packed with flavour which can be added to so many dishes.
It’s super easy to make and only needs 6 ingredients. It can also easily be made vegan too.
I love how flexible pesto is, as you can also add additional vegetables which is a great way to sneak them in. As an example, I made pesto using kale and zucchini in my Superfood Pesto Pasta.
In this recipe, I show you how to make pesto in 5 minutes. It's quick and requires no cooking time.
Another variation is my Sun Dried Tomato Pesto which is equally delicious and so easy to make. Once you start making your own homemade pesto recipes, you’ll never want to buy them again!
Ingredients to make basil pesto recipe
- Basil is the main ingredient in this dish so make sure to use fresh basil leaves. Having basil plants is always a good idea if you regularly make pesto
- Garlic gives it a subtle but prominent flavour
- Parmigiano Reggiano which has been freshly grated gives the pesto saltiness and a cheesy flavour
- Pine nuts are added for nuttiness and texture. You don’t need much as a little goes a long way
- Extra virgin olive oil brings it all together
- Lemon juice brings a light acidity needed to break up any bitter taste
- Sea salt is added and adjusted to taste. I don't like to add black pepper but your welcome to add it to your taste
- Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) can be substituted with Vegan Parmesan or also Nutritional yeast
- Pine nuts can also be substituted with cashews or walnuts
- Additional vegetables can also be included such as spinach, kale, or also rocket/arugula
How to make pesto sauce
Time needed: 5 minutes.
- Add ingredients to a food processor
Add basil leaves, garlic, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice and salt into a food processor. Then grate in the parmesan cheese and top with extra virgin olive oil
Pulse in the food processor so that the mixture is nicely blended and chopped
Serve in your favourite dish and store the remaining in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer
Important tips on how to make pesto
- Make sure to toast pine nuts on a frypan before adding them. This brings a beautiful nutty flavour however keep an eye on them as they can burn very quickly
- You can use some of the smaller thin stems of basil however you mainly want to use the leaves.
- Ensure to pulse your blender or food processor as you want to keep some texture. Don’t blend all the way through as it will be too runny
- When left to stand, the oil from the pesto will rise to the top. Make sure to give it a quick mix before using
Make the pesto as per the recipe and at the same time, cook your pasta as per the box instructions. Once pasta is cooked, save some pasta water and drain the pasta into a big bowl or the same pot, off the heat. Add the pesto with a splash of pasta water and mix together.
Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
You can also freeze pesto which is what I like to do when I have made too much. This way it’s ready to use for a last-minute pasta or dinner as all you have to do is thaw it and it’s good to go! You can freeze them in a container or also in ice cube trays.
What to make pesto with
How to Make Pesto
- 40 g basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 20 g pinenuts
- 20 g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (or nutritional yeast if you are vegan )
- ¼ lemon squeezed
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- Toast the pineuts on a pan on a very low heat until they are nice and golden and allow to cool
- Add basil leaves, garlic, toasted pinenuts, lemon juice and salt into a food processor
- Grate in the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and top with extra virgin olive oil
- Pulse in a food processor or blender so that the mixture is nicely blended and chopped but be careful not to over blend as you still want some texture to remain. You can also make the pesto in a mortar and pestle.
- Serve in your favourite dish and store the remaining in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer