This quick and classic basil pesto tastes good on everything, and comes together in minutes!
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Growing up, pesto was a summer staple. Pesto – served in any form – is fought over in my parent’s house. My mom loves it toasted on bread or tossed onto pasta, but my dad just wants to eat it straight from the bowl! But seriously, sometimes if my mom makes it she hides it from Dad until she’s ready to serve it; otherwise, it may disappear.
I love it both ways – served raw, you get a bit more zing from the garlic. If that’s not your speed, either run it under a broiler for a minute or two or serve it on something hot (like pasta) for a more mellow bite. You can serve this on toast as crostini, mixed into a salad, spread onto a sandwich, as seasoning over chicken, or coating pasta – however you want!
I grew up eating this pesto enough that when I was living on my own and found a pesto recipe without basil in it, I was appalled! Turns out, this is a thing, I’d just only had the basil version. I still don’t make any other kinds – basil or bust, right??
Like all the best family recipes, this one never really had any numbers. I’ve done the best I can to recreate my mom’s version, but you can adjust every ingredient to fit the flavors you like best!
I know four cups of basil is hard to measure. Cram as much as you can into that four cup measure, more is always better!
Classic Basil Pesto
- 4 cups basil
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup raw pine nuts
- 2/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 olive oil
- 1/4 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- Wash and de-stem the basil. If you have the time, let it air dry for a few hours to avoid extra moisture in the pesto.
- Cut the parmesan cheese and garlic into 1-inch chunks, then put them and the pine nuts into the food processor. Turn on until everything is in small pieces.
- Add basil, salt, and pepper to the food processor and combine. When the mixture is roughly chopped, begin to drizzle olive oil in with the blade still running. This helps the oil distribute and create an even texture.
- Add oil, pausing occasionally to check the texture. You want it to be pretty smooth and spreadable, similar to whole grain mustard in texture. Usually, I add about 1/4 cup to get it looking how I want.
- Store in small containers and put a layer of plastic wrap over the surface of the pesto in each. This helps slow down the oxidation process and keep that bright green color. Each batch makes about 12 ounces.
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