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Fresh Basil Pesto Sauce

With so many different uses, pesto is one of my favorite sauces! And since it tastes best when it’s freshly made, it’s a recipe that every cook should know how to prepare. Luckily, preparing your own fresh basil pesto sauce at home is so easy. The best part about this simple recipe is that you can use it in a variety of dishes – from classic pasta to roasted vegetables!
Overhead view of basil pesto

With so many different uses, pesto is one of my favorite sauces! And since it tastes best when it’s freshly made, it’s a recipe that every cook should know how to prepare. Luckily, preparing your own fresh basil pesto sauce at home is so easy. The best part about this simple recipe is that you can use it in a variety of dishes – from classic pasta to roasted vegetables!

 

Fresh Homemade Basil Pesto Pin

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What Do I Need to Make Fresh Basil Pesto?

To make your own basil pesto sauce at home, you’ll need a handful of fresh ingredients, including:

Ingredients for pesto.

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How Do I Make a Fresh Basil Pesto?

With the help of your food processor or blender, you can whip up your own homemade sauce in a matter of minutes. Follow these two easy steps to make your own fresh basil sauce for dinner tonight:

Step One: Process the Sauce Ingredients

Use your food processor to mix the basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend until all the ingredients are pureed and well mixed.

Step Two: Add the Oil

Keep blending the ingredients while slowly adding the olive oil to the food processor. Once all the oil has been added, season lightly with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Overhead view of fresh basil pesto.

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a popular Italian sauce that originated in the Genoa region of Italy. The sauce is traditionally made by combining fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and hard cheese. For centuries, pesto was made by pounding the ingredients of the sauce in a mortar and pestle until it was smooth. Thanks to modern technology, pesto can be easily made at home using a food processor!

How Long Does Fresh Basil Pesto Last?

You can keep your basil pesto sauce fresh for up to one week if it’s stored properly. If you don’t plan on eating your sauce immediately after you prepare it, transfer the pesto to a jar or airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be used.

Pesto made with fresh basil and lemons.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil Pesto

If you won’t be able to use your fresh sauce within a week, you can also freeze your pesto for use later. Leftover sauce may be frozen, but keep in mind that the texture of the cheese may change after thawing. For best results, it’s a good idea to freeze the fresh basil pesto sauce without the cheese. When you thaw your sauce, you can then blend in the grated parmesan cheese.

To freeze your fresh pesto, pour the sauce into a zip-top bag. Lay the bag flat in the freezer until you’re ready to use your sauce. Let the sauce thaw at room temperature before use.

For smaller portions, you can also freeze your pesto sauce in an ice cube tray. Simply pour the sauce into the tray and freeze until solid. Then, pop the frozen sauce cubes out of the tray and transfer them to a freezer bag. Use the small sauce cubes to add to dishes, like pesto chicken or roasted potatoes.

Overhead view of basil pesto

How to Store Fresh Basil

Since this recipe uses fresh basil, it’s important to know how to keep your herbs fresh until you’re ready to add it to the sauce. After purchasing your basil from the store, wash the leaves and shake them to remove the excess moisture. Remove the basil leaves from the stem and place them on a dry paper towel. Cover the leaves with another paper towel and place them in a plastic zip-top bag. Store the bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

How to Roast Pine Nuts

To enhance the flavor of your pine nuts, make sure to roast them before adding them to your pesto! If you’ve never roasted or toasted nuts before, don’t worry. The process is quick and easy. Simply add the pine nuts to a small dry skillet. Make sure the nuts are spread in an even layer in the skillet, then heat the nuts on medium-low. Stir the nuts occasionally to prevent them from burning, then cook until they’re golden brown and smell nutty.

Fresh Pesto

Pesto Sauce Recipe Tips & Tricks

With these recipe tips and tricks, you’ll be a pro at making your own homemade pesto sauce! Try these simple ideas and substitutions to create pesto sauce to use on pasta, veggies, and meat.

  • Substitute walnuts for pine nuts. If you don’t have any pine nuts on hand, you can easily substitute them with walnuts. While the flavor of your pesto will be slightly different, the walnuts will help maintain the consistency of the sauce.
  • Add oil in increments, if needed. Some blenders and food processors don’t have an opening on top that allows you to pour the oil in while you’re blending. If that’s the case for your appliance, try adding the oil incrementally instead. Pour a small amount of oil into the blender, blend the ingredients together, then add some more until all the oil has been used.

Fresh homemade basil and lemon pesto.

Overhead view of basil pesto

Fresh Homemade Basil Pesto

With so many different uses, pesto is one of my favorite sauces! And since it tastes best when it’s freshly made, it’s a recipe that every cook should know how to prepare. Luckily, preparing your own fresh basil pesto sauce at home is so easy. The best part about this simple recipe is that you can use it in a variety of dishes – from classic pasta to roasted vegetables!
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Course: Cooking Ingredients
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 200kcal

Equipment

  • Food Processor or Blender

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves packed, removed from stems
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts toasted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 Tbsp garlic minced
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Use your food processor to mix the basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend until all the ingredients are pureed and well mixed.
  • Keep blending the ingredients while slowly adding the olive oil to the food processor. Once all the oil has been added, season lightly with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 683mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 369IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating