Today I’m going to share my recipe for a life-changing condiment: pesto. Not store-bought pesto – homemade pesto. Store-bought pesto jazzes food up but homemade pesto, my friends – this stuff changes lives. Once you make your own pesto, you will never go back to buying it at the store.
This post was originally posted in 2013 but has been updated to include new photos, content, and video!
How to Make Pesto at Home
Pesto is one of those items I just can’t do without. Whipping up a quick batch is a weekly occurrence in my house. And did I mention how much my personal chef clients LOVE it? They can’t get enough – I’m often making double, triple, or quadruple batches just so I can take some to them during my cooking visits!
Watch this short video to see how I make pesto:
Kitchen tools used in this recipe:
- Kitchen shears
- White prep cups/ramekins
- Cuisinart 9-Cup Food Processor
- Small fine-mesh strainer
- Mini spatula
So why go to the trouble of making pesto at home? For one thing, the flavor of store-bought pesto that’s been subjected to high heat, canned, and sat on a store shelf for who knows how long can’t even begin to touch the flavor you get from freshly ground basil and garlic. It’s insanely good. Second, homemade pesto is so versatile. You can change anything about it to your liking, save money, or add more nutrition. Pine nuts too expensive? Try almonds (or really any nut you have on hand!). Allergic to nuts? Try toasted sunflower or sesame seeds. Trying to get more leafy greens in your diet? Add spinach or lightly sautéed kale. Really enjoy the taste of pepper? Add a few handfuls of arugula when you add the basil. Seriously, the possibilities are endless.
Tips and Techniques for Using Pesto
Practically speaking, homemade pesto will keep for about a week in your fridge – if it lasts that long. Cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap to keep the fresh green color on top. Want to try and freeze it? Go ahead – it freezes beautifully. In fact, my sweet and extremely domestic mother (whom I swear must be related to Martha Stewart in some way) freezes it in an ice cube tray, pops them out once frozen, and stores the cubes in the freezer so she can use small amounts as needed. Smart, huh?
Below is a collection of all the recipes that use some form of pesto on Sweet Cayenne!
- Pesto and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
- Basil Pesto Chicken, Farro and Nectarine Salad
- Tomato and Peach Farro Salad with Arugula Pesto
- Tuna and White Bean Salad with Kale Pesto
- Farro Risotto with Mushrooms and Winter Greens Pesto
- Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Basil Pesto
- Pesto Cheesecake Christmas Wreath
Other ideas for using homemadme pesto:
- Serve on top of scrambled eggs or an omelet
- Use as a spread for burgers, sandwiches, paninis
- Dollop a small amount on tomato soup
- Add to homemade hummus or bean dips
- Mix a spoonful with mayo (preferably homemade) to make a pesto aoli
- Dilute with extra lemon juice or your favorite vinegar to make a light salad dressing
- Toss with hot pasta or hot shredded spaghetti squash for a flavorful sauce
- Toss with rotisserie chicken and use as a salad or pizza topping
Are you ready to get make some pesto? Good! I’m so excited for you to try this easy pesto recipe. Once you get the chance to make your own unique version of pesto, please let me know how it turns out for you! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes! I’d also love to feature your creation in my monthly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured!
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup almonds (or any unsalted nut or seed of your choice)
- 1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (or any green of your choice)
- 1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 -3/4 cup olive oil (depends on consistency you desire)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor, chop nuts and garlic till finely coarse.
- Add lemon juice, basil, and spinach. Process the above while adding 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream.
- Add in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper to taste, and pulse just until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Transfer pesto to an air-tight storage container and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.