Homemade Pesto Recipe and Ways to Use Pesto Beyond the Traditional

ingredients for homemade pesto

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Pesto is a classic; the mix of basil, garlic pine nuts and olive oil is simple to make and oh, so versatile. I love summer because of the availability of so much fresh produce including fresh herbs like basil. Every year I make at least one batch of homemade pesto. It freezes beautifully – if I end up with any left over to freeze! Pesto is a matter of personal taste for everyone. This is how I like to make it. It can of course be made with different types of herbs and nuts – it’s a recipe that can altered to suit your needs and tastes.

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homemade pesto recipe

Homemade Pesto Recipe

Makes about 2 cups

  • 4 cups loosely packed basil leaves, preferably organic
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cups toasted pine nuts
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste if needed

make pesto

  • Toast the pine nuts – watch them. They can go from toasted to burnt in a split second
  • Add the basil leaves and garlic to the bowl of a food processor with the metal blade. Pulse until the leaves are roughly chopped.
  • Add in the salt, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until everything is combined into a thick paste.
  • With the machine running slowly pour in the olive oil until it all comes together into a thick sauce. Do not over process.

homemade pesto

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  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Store, covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Ways to Use Homemade Pesto

There are many ways to use your delicious homemade pesto and you are only limited by your imagination:

  • The classic use is on hot, fresh pasta. You don’t need much else. It is truly delicious this way.
  • Make Testaroli – it’s a very old Etruscan recipe and well worth the effort.
  • Use it as a sandwich spread instead of mayo or mustard.
  • Stir it into risotto for a big flavor boost.
  • Stuff it inside of scallops and pan fry.
  • Pound out chicken breasts, spread on pesto and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake until chicken is cooked and cheese is melted.
  • Mix with ricotta cheese and fill ravioli.
  • Add to a cheese omelet for a burst of flavor.

So you see, there are many more ways to enjoy this delicious and classic sauce of summer. As I mentioned above, it does freeze beautifully; I just use ice cube trays. I fill each section and then when I can use as many as I need at any given time. Remember, you don’t need a lot of pesto to get big flavor!

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