I’m sharing my all time favorite go to basil pesto recipe that I use over and over for things like pasta, sauces, dips, dressings, and spreads. It’s super easy to make with very few ingredients and with the help of a food processor you will always have fresh pesto on hand for those busy weeknight meals. It’s a delicious way to make the most of leftover fresh basil leaves. And I promise, when I say, this stuff does not compare to store bought jarred pesto.
I was actually at the grocery store the other day and just out of curiosity looked up different brands of pesto and almost all of them either had corn syrup or some other foreign ingredients that I had to translate. Which is a shame, considering high end brands of pesto can run anywhere between $4-$5. So you’re pretty much paying for food that’s not really food. Not to mention waste of money.
This homemade pesto comes together in 5 minutes and with just 6 (real) ingredients. You have the basil, pine nuts (Trader Joe’s has affordable 8 oz. bags of pine nuts that I like to purchase – you only need 1/4 cup, so a little goes a long way), Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. I know a lot of recipes skip on lemon juice but I find that it breaks down the heaviness of the garlic and Parmesan and adds just enough freshness where you don’t feel like you’re eating garlic out of a jar. This recipe yields around 3/4 cup of pesto and refrigerates up to one week.
My favorite recipes that use basil pesto: Creamy Basil Chicken with Asparagus and Greek Yogurt Pesto Chicken Pasta. You can also toss this with chicken, shrimp, hot pasta, mix this pesto + cream for creamy pesto sauce, transform it into a salad dressing, mix into cream cheese for a tasty pesto spread, use as a dipping sauce for crusty bread, replace pizza sauce, spread on sandwich or flatbread, garnish soup.
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or store bought shredded)
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl of a food processor; pulse until well blended and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate in airtight container up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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