Recipes | July 7, 2021 | By ELISE BAUER
Fresh Basil Pesto
This is a technique that elevates basic sauteed greens into something even more savory and tender.
Note that pesto is always made to taste, based on the ingredients at hand. So adjust the ingredients to your taste.
Most pesto recipes call for Parmesan cheese; we often use Romano which has a stronger flavor. Basil pesto recipes often call for pine nuts, but you can easily substitute walnuts.
Basil is a powerfully aromatic herb and a little goes a long way. You can mellow the pesto out a bit by subbing half of the basil with fresh baby spinach leaves. The pesto will more easily stay vibrant green and the flavor of the basil will still come through, though just not as strongly.
PREP TIME: 15 mins
TOTAL TIME: 15 mins
SERVINGS: 4 servings
YIELD: 1 cup
NOTE: Basil pesto darkens when exposed to air. To store, cover tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is touching the top of the pesto and not allowing the pesto to have contact with air. The pesto sauce will stay greener longer that way.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
STEP 1 : Pulse the basil and pine nuts
Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times.
STEP 2 : Add the garlic and cheese
Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
STEP 3 : Slowly pour in the olive oil
While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly while the processor is running will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally, stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
STEP 4 : Season the pesto sauce
Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Toss with pasta for a quick sauce, dollop over baked potatoes, or spread onto crackers or toasted slices of bread.