Basil Pesto Yum
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  • Recipe: Basil Pesto
  • Writer: Lizzie Green
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

One of my favorite condiments to have on hand is pesto. To enliven pasta, salads, roasted vegetables, and more, try these simple, enjoyable pesto recipe variants!

The abundance of fresh herbs that are right outside my door is one of my favorite aspects of summer. Any meal is instantly more tasty and appealing when fresh herbs are used.

In addition to sprinkling them on everything, I like to create pesto with all of those fresh herbs. It works especially well for cooking lazily in the summer.

I enjoy spreading it liberally on grilled vegetables, pasta, spaghetti squash, salads, eggs, toasted bread, pizza, sandwiches, and so on.

Whether you feel like cooking or not, anything can be turned into an instant great supper with only a few simple steps.

How do I make pesto and what is it?

Basil Pesto
Food: Basil Pesto (Source: Cooking Classy)

Fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and Parmesan cheese are the main ingredients in traditional pesto. It comes together quickly using a food processor:

  1. The nuts, lemon juice, and garlic should all be coarsely minced in the food processor.
  2. Re-pulse after adding the basil.
  3. Olive oil should then be added while the food processor’s blade is still operating.
  4. Then, add the grated Parmesan cheese and mix just long enough to blend. Leaving out the cheese will make the pesto vegan.

That’s it! It’s quite easy to create, and you can easily change it up depending on the time of year or your mood. It can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator in an airtight container, but its surface may start to brown.

Therefore, before sealing your container, it’s ideal to cover your pesto with a thin layer of plastic wrap or an additional sprinkle of oil. This will keep it vibrantly green and fresh.

Various Pesto Recipes

Once you’ve created the traditional basil pesto recipe, experiment with variations! Vegetables, leafy greens, and various nuts and seeds can be used to create delectable variants. Some of my favorites are listed here:

  • Replace the pine nuts with any other nut of your choosing! Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are my three favorite nuts.
  • Use pepitas or hemp seeds to make it nut-free.
  • Change your herb. Try substituting mint, cilantro, or parsley for the basil.
    fewer herbs, perhaps. Change one cup of arugula, kale, or finely chopped zucchini for half the basil. Instead of half the basil, pulse in four artichoke hearts, a roasted red pepper, or half an avocado for a more flavorful variation.
  • Don’t throw away your vegetable stems. In place of half the basil, blanch 1/2 cup of kale stems and add them to the pesto.
  • Improve the flavor! Add a roasted jalapeno, nutritional yeast, two to four sun-dried tomatoes, or a dash of red pepper flakes.

I created pesto. What should I do with it now?

Pesto and spaghetti go together naturally, but it isn’t your only option.

You can add it to this delicious zucchini casserole, top it with a grain bowl, serve it over spaghetti squash or mac and cheese, or spoon it over a Caprese salad. We also enjoy it on homemade pizza and polenta. Even on scrambled eggs, it tastes fantastic!

Basil Pesto

5 minutes to prepare
Duration: 5 minutes
Serves 1 cup

This recipe has a nutty, vibrant flavor. We adore it on pizza, pasta, and other dishes. For a list of my top pesto sauce variations, see the page above.


Basic Basil Pesto:

  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for a smoother pesto
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional


Basil Pesto Easy
Food: Basil Pesto (Source: Cooking Classy)
  1. Pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper should all be added to a food processor and pulsed until finely minced.
  2. Pulse till mixed after including the basil.
  3. Olive oil should be added slowly while the food processor is running and then mixed. If using, add the Parmesan cheese and pulse just long enough to mix. More olive oil will make the pesto more supple.