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Nothing, and I mean nothing, smells and tastes like summer more than pesto. And this Easy Basil Pesto will be your go-to recipe because it’s so versatile and simple. I like to make a ton of it in the summertime when basil is plentiful and keep frozen “pesto cubes” in my freezer so I can use them year round.
You’re going to need a food processor for this recipe. If you don’t have one yet, here’s your excuse. You can’t go wrong with this Cuisinart. I’ve had it for decades and I’ll probably use it for the rest of my life.
Video: Watch Me Make Easy Basil Pesto
Pop the ingredients into a food processor, starting with the nuts and garlic. Once they’re chopped up, add the basil, a little lemon juice, and finally a drizzle of fruity olive oil until you reach your desired consistency. You can also add Parmesan cheese, although the pesto is delicious without it.
Let’s Talk About Nuts
Traditionally pesto is made with pine nuts, but you can substitute pistachios (my favorite), walnuts or almonds. Most grocery stores (and Trader Joes) sell pistachio nuts already shelled. You can find pine nuts everywhere. Both pine nuts and pistachios are pricey so keep them sealed in a plastic bag in the freezer until you’re ready to use them so they don’t get rancid.
Easy Basil Pesto is a Ratio Recipe
This recipe is super easy to scale up or down depending on your quantity of fresh herbs. My “trick” is to cut a bunch of basil, pull the leaves off the stems and put them into a measuring cup. Once I see how much I have, I figure out the rest of the recipe based on this ratio.
For every 2 cups of basil, I add:
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup of nuts
1/4 of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 – 3/4 cup of good olive oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (optional)
You can substitute Italian parsley for up to half of the basil. The flavor will be a little less intense but some people prefer it that way.
How To Use Easy Basil Pesto
There are a gazillion ways to use pesto, starting of course with stirring it into warm pasta. But here are a few of my other favorite ways to eat it:
Stir it into sauteed veggies. It’s amazing on green beans, zucchini or brocollini.
Add a heaping tablespoon to boiled potatoes before you mash them.
Top your scrambled eggs with a dollop of pesto
Slather pesto on crusty French bread and top with tomato slices
Top grilled chicken or salmon with pesto. You can do this either before or after putting them on the grill
This Easy Basil Pesto will be your go-to recipe because it’s so versatile and simple. I like to make a ton of it in the summertime when basil is plentiful and keep frozen “pesto cubes” in my freezer so I can use them year round.
1cup nuts (pistachios or pine nuts are my favorite)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2cups basil leaves (or use a mixture of basil and Italian parsley for milder flavor)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 – 3/4cup of olive oil
Place nuts and garlic in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Add basil leaves and lemon juice and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse paste.
With the food processor running, slowly pour in olive oil until the mixture gets smooth and saucy.
(Optional) Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Omit cheese for Paleo and Whole30 version
If you use Parmesan cheese, you’ll need less salt
Some people prefer a mixture of basil and Italian parsley for a less intense flavor