This was the very first time I've ever made homemade pesto. My husband planted some herbs for me this year and they have grown quite abundant. Since he is not a farmer, I was a little skeptical but the Basil and Parsley are doing beautifully! (Now the cucumbers are another story...) So, with the fruits of his labor, I decided to try my hand at making some pesto. I love the versatility of pesto, because it can be used for so much more than just pasta. This recipe is a definite keeper! Hope you love it too!
P.S. I've also added at the bottom of this post, some other uses for the pesto besides using it on pasta. Enjoy!
- ¼ cup walnuts OR ¼ cup pignoli (also known as pine nuts) * I use walnuts because they tend to be less expensive and the taste difference is minimal. Also, pignoli can be hard to find in certain areas.
- 1 ½ Tablespoons chopped garlic (I cheated and used the pre-minced kind in a jar – less work for me)
- 2 ½ cups fresh basil leaves, packed To clean basil, rinse really well in water and then dry VERY WELL.
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (If you want to use Kosher salt, that’s fine too, but I use the plain old table salt)
- ¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (I used the Kraft Green Canister kind – you can also grate your own if you’re feeling like a Super Chef, but hey, that’s more dishes for me…so yep, I don’t)
1. Put the walnuts OR pignoli, and the garlic in the bowl of a food processor with the steel blade. Pulse about 30-45 seconds get a fine chop.
2. Add the basil leaves and salt.
3. With the processor running, SLOWLY pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan cheese and puree for another 30 seconds or so.
*This can be used right away or you can store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer. Keep in mind….If you choose to refrigerate or freeze for later, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top or it will get “YUCKY!”
MORE EASY WAYS TO USE YOUR PESTO1) Drizzle pesto over baked brie for a fancy appetizer your dinner guests will love. Serve with French bread and fancy crackers.
2) Replace Pizza Sauce -using pesto instead of the tomato based pizza sauce adds an entirely different layer of flavor to your homemade pizza. Just remember…. pesto is rich, so use it a bit more sparingly than you would the tomato based sauce.
3) Pesto French Bread-Instead of garlic bread, spread Butter Pesto onto crusty bread and bake in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until lightly golden brown. Pesto Butter – 4 Tablespoons of softened butter and 1 teaspoon pesto. Mix well and spread on Bread. Makes 4-6 slices of bread. For more bread, recipe is easily doubled.
4) Spread on a Sandwich or Flatbread-Mix pesto with mayonnaise or use as is on sandwich bread or flatbread. Make a pesto schmear by mixing it with cream cheese and serving with bagels.
5) Make a Pesto Salad Dressing-Thinned with a little more oil and a splash of Red Wine Vinegar, and you’ve got a quick vinaigrette for summer salads. Whisk into buttermilk for an Italian version of ranch dressing.
6) Toss onto potatoes-Instead of butter, use a dab of pesto to garnish your potatoes
7) Smear on Bruschetta-A smear of pesto topped with a slice of mozzarella on a slice of baguette is one of our favorite quick appetizers.
8) Garnish a Soup
9) Use in Cheater Gourmet Tomato Soup – Recipe Below
*Cheater Gourmet Tomato Soup
1 can of Campbell’s Condensed Soup
1 can of Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
½ can of water (rinse out soup can)
1 teaspoon pesto in Soup
*Drizzle of Pesto on soup for serving.
**Serve with Pesto French Bread (Recipe Above)