How To Make Pesto

Ah PESTO! I’m going back to basics here. I was recently surprised to hear how many people didn’t know how to make Pesto. They’ve been buying it in the jars. Quite pricey jars might I add. There’s nothing wrong with that BUT I’m going to let them in on a secret…It’s easy peasy & oh so good made fresh.

I have a GINORMOUS pot of Basil on my deck & now that’s it’s getting cooler I’m afraid it’s going to slip away from me. You see, my beloved Basil is one of the herbs that I simply can not grow over the winter. I don’t know WHY but it withers away. Each year I go buy 3-4 new Basil plants and they flourish ALL spring & summer, but alas leave me for warmer pastures/pots (LOL) as soon as the cold hits. What’s a girl gonna do?

SO because I didn’t want to lose all of that green goodness I thought PESTO would be a fab idea! I went to my pot to retrieve the mounds of basil. Ah, the smell is just intoxicating to me. LOVE IT! I had just picked up some Pine Nuts from the farmer’s market this week-end & of course, you know me, I have garlic, extra virgin olive oil & Parmigiano Reggiano on hand. If I don’t – I’m sick, very sick and you should worry about me. Tee Hee! So I was all set to get to mixin’!

You can do all of this by hand, and that’s actually the way I was taught in Italy. BUT I use my food processor & just sayin we didn’t have a food processor in Italy so chissa {who knows} I might have used one then LOL! Just be careful NOT to over pulse. Don’t get crazy with the pulse button. Go easy! But if you don’t have a food processor, feel free to chop away. Just make sure you have a super sharp knife! In case you have any leftover, the Pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Just pour a little dab of olive oil on top & stir before reusing.

Pretty please with sugar on top, don’t skimp on the olive oil. You REALLY need to use a good quality EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil. As with everything good quality ingredients count.

Now for the glorious Pesto! Isn’t it just gawgeous? There are so many ways to use it. You can spread it on a sandwich in lieu of other condiments. You can toss it with Pasta for Pasta al Pesto! Put it on your pizza…I could go on & on, BUT I want to hear from you!

What do you do with your Pesto? Dimmi {tell me}

Baci!

Pesto

What You Will Need:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano – grated
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • kosher salt

What To Do:

  1. Into Food Processor add: basil, garlic. Pulse to combine.
  2. Add pine Nuts and pulse to combine. Add cheese and WHILE food processor is pulsing GRADUALLY stream in the olive oil.
  3. Taste for seasoning. Add salt if necessary.
http://www.bellalimento.com/2009/10/06/pesto/


52 Comments

  1. 1

    I love a dollop of it on barbecued meat – chicken, beef, lamb, whatever.

    I also prefer it with pre-cooked garlic. I peel the garlic cloves and put them into a small saucepan of water and boil for a few minutes, then change the water and boil again. A little less pungent for the kids. And I lightly toast the pine nuts first, too.

    (your method would be much quicker obviously!)

    Great photo – and good advice about not to over-pulse. It’s good with a bit of texture.

    • 1.1

      Ciao Trish! That’s a great garlic tip for those who might be a little concerned about the raw garlic flavor. Thanks for sharing! I really love a little texture as well. Keeps things interesting ;)

  2. 2

    Paula I just love you !! It’s so nice to see one make things from scratch and do it so well… kudos !

    • 2.1

      Thanks so much Nick. I try to make things from scratch when possible. It’s so much better that way (but I realize that it’s not always possible)

  3. 3

    I’m with you on using the food processor. I know the mortar and pestle is the “traditional” way to do it, but really, who has the time or patience for that?
    I like to make a couple of big batches each summer and freeze it in small jars to use throughout the winter. It holds up very well that way.

    • 3.1

      Ciao Kristina! : ) I’m making up some more batches with the remaining Basil I have & freezing it. Don’t want to be without & you’re right, it freezes beautifully!

  4. 4

    great pictures!
    i make my own too. just finished the last batch in the jar this evening. gotta make some more and freeze it for the cool weather when basil is not growing!

    • 4.1

      Hi LuLu! Thanks so much! Yes, I will be freezing some too! So convenient & it thaws very quickly!

  5. 5

    I just love pesto. It makes a huge difference in everything. I love that second photo. I could frame it and hang it on my wall.

    • 5.1

      Ah thanks Divina! I <3 it too! Amazing what a spoonful of Pesto can do, no?

  6. 6

    This is perfect – simple, sophisticated. I love my pesto on almost anything.

    • 6.1

      Grazie Belinda! It is simply perfect! I love how a few quality ingriedients can make such a powerfully flavorful item!

  7. 7

    I ADORE pesto!!! So rich and flavorful.

    • 7.1

      Hi VeggieGirl! Yes it is! I’m making a panino for lunch today & of course it will have Pesto on it!

  8. 8

    A couple tablespoons are good stirred into a pot of hot soup.

    • 8.1

      Ciao Elaine! LOVE it in soups too! It really intensifies the flavors!

  9. 9
    Sarah /

    I love Pesto!! I usually add lemon to mine… and eat it with almost everything, even just by the spoonful! YUM!

    • 9.1

      Hi Sarah! Yes, I admit I am a spoon eating Pesto eater as well! Tee hee!

  10. 10

    Inspiring! Love the pesto on everything ;)

    • 10.1

      Ciao Kathy! So sweet of you! Basil is such a fab little herb & well when combined with 3 of my favorite things (garlic, olive oil, & parm reg) you can’t go wrong!

  11. 11

    This is just beautiful. I like a good dollop in a rustic tomato soup….

    • 11.1

      Hi Mardi! Thank you so much! I love everything about Pesto. The color, the smell, the taste! & Yes, I Love Love Love it in soups too!

  12. 12

    pesto goes great with pretty much a lot of ingredients, I personally use it often as a sandwich spread because I love the pungent flavors it gives to the deli meat and cheese. yum!

    • 12.1

      Ciao Jessie! It’s fab as a sandwich spread. I’m not a big mayo girl so this is right up my alley on sandwiches! I will actually be spreading some Pesto love on my Panino today for lunch! Can’t wait! Yum!

  13. 13

    Hey Paula… I just found your blog, hmmm… Pesto! from condiment for soups to marination… just like you, I LOVE IT! I think I m going to post my own asian/italian version of Pesto very soon… thanks for sharing, ciao bella… ;)

    • 13.1

      Ciao Nash! So glad you mentioned marinating with Pesto! It’ perfect for that too! Can’t wait to see your Asian/Italian version of Pesto!

  14. 14
    moke076 /

    I am one of your tasty kitchen friends and followed your link here. Everything looks delicious. Umm and I am ashamed that I always buy fresh pre-made pesto at my local specialty store- Alon’s. I think you just gave me the confidence to try to make it myself at home. Now all I need is a food processor- mine went kaput

    • 14.1

      Ciao! I’m so glad that you’re going to try it fresh! Please don’t be ashamed, everyone has bought premade at one time or another ; ) You CAN make it all by hand (just takes a little longer). But it might be a good excuse to get a new kitchen appliance tee hee! Thanks so much for stopping by! I really appreciate it! Let me know how it turns out!

  15. 15

    Looks great! Great photo. I have a confession, I use to buy it in a jar too! But I learned to make it, it is so much tastier.

    • 15.1

      Thanks so much Angie! I think we all have at one time or another ; ) I think with all things it’s so much better at home when we have time to make them ourselves.

  16. 16

    Beautiful! I have a sweet basil bush and some lemon basil….love them both. I am guilty of of over processing cause I use my blender. More and more I think I need to get a food processor. I have resisted all these years but I feel the pull.

    • 16.1

      Ciao Cathy! Thank you so much! I am going to have to add Lemon Basil to my herb garden wish list for next spring. Perhaps you could start out with a small food processor & see how you like it : ) They don’t take up a lot of space & they pack a powerful punch!

  17. 17

    LOVE your photos! Its always great to go back to the basics…. I can’t stand pesto in the jar anymore now that I’ve been spoiled with making my own! LOL!

    • 17.1

      Hi Marillyn Thank you so much! It does make it hard to go back once you’ve made your own : )

  18. 18

    Ciao! E’ un piacere enorme scoprire che il tuo blog è tutto ispirato all’Italia!
    Io con il pesto, oltre la pasta e la pizza, faccio il risotto con asparagi, le mini-bruschettine, condisco le patate e il pesce lessato.
    Baci! A presto!

    • 18.1

      Ehila’ Rossa! Sei molto carina! Si’ infatti sono innamorato con L’Italia : ) Abitavo in Friuli per tanti anni quando ero piu’ giovane e’ queste sono le ricette che ho conosciutto dal quel periodo. Non ho mai provato il risotto con l’asparagi con il Pesto! Ma adesso devo al piu’ presto! Baci e’ ci sentiamo!

  19. 19

    This looks divine! You’ve inspired me to cook pesto tonight. :)

  20. 20

    I toss sea scallops in pesto, wrap each in a slice of prosciutto, and bake for 15 minutes. It’s perfection!

    • 20.1

      TINA! WOW, I’m salivating. How good is that? I’m so trying that! Mwah!

  21. 21

    nothing beats homemade pesto! beautiful!!!

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  23. 23

    I made pesto for the first time in ages this past summer. It was so wonderfully fresh and delicious! Thanks for posting the how to. Pesto is yummy and goes with so many things! :D

  24. 24

    Thanks for the reminder, Paula! The nights are getting cool here, and I’ve just got to get my buns in gear. I’m adding your recipe to my next few week’s lineup, because I don’t want to lose all that lovely fresh basil either.

  25. 25

    Love homemade pesto! And your post reminded me to go water my herbs, I’m always forgetting!

  26. 26
    southernms /

    Do you freeze your pesto with the cheese added? A friend told me not to freeze with the cheese and only add it after the pesto is thawed?

    • 26.1

      Ciao! You know mine has never actually last long enough to freeze it. I’m going to do a few more batches before my Basil leaves me LOL and freeze some so I’ll be able to tell you soon ; )

  27. 27

    Mmmm…you’ve just reminded me that I need to replenish my frozen pesto stock. I often make it and freeze it in one-tablespoon portions (in ice trays, or most recently in my madeleine pan!). I put it on pizza instead of tomato sauce and I love it on panini.

  28. 28

    Love your blog!! This pesto looks amazing! I do mine with macadamia nuts instead of pine nuts- it gives it a little something extra and it is awesome!!!

  29. 29
    Marcia /

    Oh, how I wish I had an abundance of basil! I just love the way my kitchen smells when I make pesto! My basil plant on my little New York City terrace doesn’t produce enough for a batch of pesto, just enough for some caprese salads and to toss in with tomatoes.
    Looks delish, Paula! Beautiful photos!

    • 29.1
      Grace Bunao /

      Thanks for sharing the recipe for Pesto. Just love it! You can toss it on top of salted crackers & wala, its so good.

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