Homemade Basil Pesto

I may not have any Italian roots, but I sure love a heaping bowl of warm linguine with homemade basil pesto when the weather starts to cool down.  Sure, you could go out to your local grocery store and snag a jar of pesto that would be quite delicious, but the satisfaction and flavor that comes from creating your own, is irreplaceable.

I decided to focus today’s post on a simple, affordable, and traditional basil pesto recipe.  All of the ingredients needed that I will list below, are obtainable at most grocery stores, including Wegmans, Tops, and Walmart.  Shall we get started?

Here’s what you will need to make 1 cup of your very own basil pesto…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Each of these ingredients are quite simple and some might even be found in your pantry at home.  If you are unable to obtain pine nuts (they are sometimes a little pricey), feel free to substitute almonds, cashews, or walnuts.  Also, if your local grocery store just so happens to be lacking in the cheese department, substitute grated Parmesan cheese for the freshly grated Pecorino.

In terms of utensils, all you will need is:

  • Chopping knife
  • Cutting board
  • Medium size mixing bowl
  • Whisk

If you want to keep things simple, put aside the knifes and bowls, and substitute all of these utensils for a food processor.  If you choose to take this route, combine the garlic, basil, and pine nuts in the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add 1/2 cup of the oil and continue to pulse until fully incorporated.  Sprinkle in your desired amount of salt and pepper.  If you are planning on utilizing the pesto immediately, add in the remaining oil and pulse until smooth.  Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the cheese.

If you want to take a more old fashioned road of preparation, begin by finely mincing your garlic cloves and place in a medium sized bowl.  Finely chop the basil, almost to the point where it begins to form its own paste.  Combine with the garlic.  Lastly, finely chop the pine nuts to the desired size.  Mix together the garlic, basil and nuts, while also slowly incorporating the olive oil.  If you have a fresh block of Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grate to the desired size into the bowl.  If your cheese is pre-grated, simply pour to combine with the garlic, basil, nut, and olive oil mixture.  Stir in the cheese and serve.

Typically, I enjoy putting my homemade pesto on linguine pasta (store bought, in the box.. no need to get fancy and make it yourself).  I also enjoy pesto on other types of pasta, ravioli, and even crostini toasts.  This simple dish is all you need to spice up a family dinner or wow your guests at a small gathering.

If you are not planning on using your pesto immediately, transfer to an air tight container or pour into ice cube trays, then place in a freezer bag.  You can freeze your pesto for up to 3 months.  I personally prefer freezing it in the ice cube trays because you can pop out a cube of pesto and it is the perfect amount for a single serving of pasta. 🙂

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and stay tuned for more coming your way soon!

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