I’d guess that basil is possibly the most popular herb grown at home. So I’m guessing if you have an herb garden, you’ve got fresh basil. And it would be a complete shame to have fresh basil at your disposal and not make pesto! Such a quick and easy thing and you can use it so many ways. If you’re buying basil at the store, you could always substitute some spinach or arugula for some of the basil to stretch your dollar, but I think all-basil is the best if you’ve got access to it. Let’s do it!


Fresh Basil Pesto
Recipe by Our Best Bites

2 1/2 – 3 C basil leaves, gently packed
3/4 C fresh Parmesan cheese (this is not the time for stuff in a plastic bottle)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C pinenuts, toasted
1/2-3/4C extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
a few cracks pepper

Place everything but olive oil in a food processor. (For the salt, start with 1/4 t and add the rest at the end. The final amount really depends on the saltiness of your cheese, so give it a taste first.) Give it a few pulses until things are chopped up.


Slowly pour in olive oil while processor is running* until you reach the consistency you want. It’s gorgeous and green and perfectly wonderful! Eat it right away or store in the fridge or freezer (directions below).

*If you have a extra small food processor, or no food processor at all, you don’t have to add the oil while it’s running. You can process everything (or hand chop if you’re good with a knife!) and add the oil by hand. Processing it in the machine however creates a mixture that holds together a bit better than a hand mixed version.


Now what to do what to do… Here’s a few of my favorite ways to eat fresh pesto. First and foremost, you need a fresh loaf of crusty artisan bread. Rip off chunks and dip it right in. No matter what you are eating- this one is a must!


Use it on panini. We made this dinner with a rotisserie chicken, garden tomatoes, mozzerella cheese and lots of fresh pesto (of course!)


Possibly one of my most favorite dinners ever and SO quick and easy. It’s like a simplified short-cut variation of this pasta dish. Put some cherry tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pop it in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. In the mean time boil some pasta. Toss the hot pasta, tomatoes, and pesto all together for a dinner that’s done in 15 minutes flat! Did I mention it’s soooo good??


Freezer Instructions:
One of the great things about pesto is that it freezes well, so you can make it in the peak of summer when your basil is going bonkers and then have it all winter long. Just put it in an ice cube tray and after it’s frozen pop all of those cute little cubes in a zip-lock bag or freezer container. Pull them out any time you need a burst of fresh flavor.

Here’s a few more ways to use pesto:
-Use it as a sauce on homemade pizza. Love it on grilled pizza!
-Toss it with fresh steamed veggies.
-Top a baked potato (it’s super yummy mixed in with the sour cream)
-Put some in Kate’s Cheesy Garlic Swirls, instead of the butter and garlic seasoning.
-Slather it under the skin of a whole chicken and roast in the oven or crock pot.
-Dollop it in soups (like this one)
-Mix it with mayo for sandwiches
-Drizzle on scrambled eggs
-Combine with cream cheese on a bagel (yum!)
-Mix into salad dressings- it’s great with homemade ranch
-Pop it in some homemade hot pockets with mozzerella and pepperoni!
-Drop a frozen cube or two into homemade pasta sauce (both creamy and tomato based) and pizza sauce.

Did I get your brains working?? Y’all have been quiet this week! Add any ideas in the comments- We’d love to hear them!

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46comments

  1. 1
    Victoria says:

    My favorite! As a base for a nice tomato bruschetta. Dressing for a cool pasta salad. On homemade pizza with shrimp, roma tomatoes and pine nuts. Love pesto!!! Thanks…

  2. 2
    Brooke says:

    I read your site everyday, but after salivating over the recipes, I can only half-way coherently muster up a, "OMG YUM, FEEDMEFEEDME."

    http://www.ramblingbrooke.com

  3. 3
    betchacanteatjustone says:

    Your posts are always just right no time!! I have a huge bunch of basil that I had intended to use on the weekend and it needs to be used now oe never. Why didn't I think of pulverizing it up?!? :)

  4. 4
    Christine says:

    I love basil and pesto so this is great!! You panini looks FANTASTIC even at 6:30 in the morning. I love your blog!

  5. 5
    EthidiumBromide says:

    I've always wondered… what happens if you don't pour the olive oil in while the food processor is running? Does it ruin the pesto? Living in a tiny little D.C. condo means I don't have kitchen space, so I just have one of the mini 2 cup food processors that does not have the option of adding things in while running (well, unless I removed the lid completely, but I really do not want to be scraping pesto off the ceiling). I've never made it because I've always figured there must be some reason why every recipe clearly states ADD OLIVE OIL WHILE FOOD PROCESSOR IS RUNNING! Does anyone know why and if it is still worth making it without that option?

    • 5.1
      Wendy Perkins says:

      Definitely worth it! I have a big ol’ food processor, but I’ve always dumped all the ingredients in together, oil and all. It still tastes wonderful!

  6. 6
    Barbara Bakes says:

    I wish I could have that panini for lunch today! Great ideas!

  7. 7
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    EthidiumBromide- no, you absolutely DON'T have to add the olive oil while it's running! Directions always say simply for ease of preparation. Everything is already in there so it's easy to just pour in the oil and you do it while it's running just to mix it all up. You could totally just process everything (even by hand if you really had to) and stir in the oil by hand. And in fact, for a lot of things that call for adding the oil while the processor is running- I add it in by hand instead (like chimichurri for example) because sometimes processing oil too much gives it a bitter taste. So you have no more excuses- go make some pesto!

  8. 8
    EthidiumBromide says:

    Thanks for the response, Sara! I've got a basil plant at home that is just itching to be turned into pesto tonight!

  9. 9
    The Double Dipped Life says:

    I love pesto! I love the Basil- thank you for the freezing tips! I also love a spicy Cilantro pesto! Yum!

  10. 10
    kim says:

    I love pesto. And yes, thank you for the freezing tips. Sometimes I use walnuts when I don't have pinenuts. But I can only ever make a little at a time, because I have a mini food processor! Oh well, it was a hand-me-down from Mom, and I'm not a bout to spend a few hundred on that bigger food processor. :-)

  11. 11
    LollyChops says:

    For years now I have made up a mass of Pesto and frozen it in little 1/2 cup ziploc containers. That way I can take out small amounts as needed through out the winter. I use my pesto in soups and potpie… mmmm. I cannot wait till winter to break into the soups and potpies again!

    Thanks for sharing your recipe ladies!

  12. 12
    Mindy says:

    I recently made pesto, and since I don't have any ice cube trays, used my madeleine pan! My husband thought I was crazy, but it worked. I love using pesto as a pizza base…especially during the winter when most food is so heavy.

  13. 13
    Amber says:

    Thanks so much for the pesto recipe! I have a huge basil plant and like to see a little variation in the pesto. I never thought of freezing it!

  14. 14
    MommytoTommy says:

    Yum!! I LOVE pesto!! At my work, we have the option of buying food there (I work at a nursing home) and they have this amazing grilled chicken breast with pesto mayo… it is to DIE for! SO easy, too. Take about 4oz chicken, grill it up, put it on a bun with pesto mayo and a roasted red pepper slice… DELISH!

  15. 15
    Jennifer says:

    I LOVE fresh pesto and all of your ideas are fabulous!! The idea of freezing is wonderful!

  16. 16
    Holman Family says:

    Thanks for making this look so do-able!! Always love to see what you have put together … and looking so fabulous as always :-)

  17. 17
    Victoria@WhimsybyVictoria says:

    Pesto! My favorite! I will make this and freeze it for when I need to use it. I can't wait to make some and taste how good it is! Thanks for sharing another great recipe!!

    Hugs,
    ~Victoria~

  18. 18
    cindy says:

    My trusty food processor finally died–after many years of faithful service. I have one in my Macys 'shopping cart', thanks to this post I will push the 'send' button tonight!
    Thanks for your inspiring blog–because of you I started my own blog and am having fun with it. Keep posting!

  19. 19
    The Wifey says:

    Had this tonight at my mom's. She did the pasta with roasted (Fresh from the garden!) cherry tomatoes and holy crap it was delicious! Seriously incredibly tasty.

  20. 20
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Thanks Carly, so glad you liked it! There's nothing like fresh roasted tomatoes from the garden either. PS I love your Mom. My goal in life is to one day get a comment from her!

  21. 21
    rach says:

    Are you serious. It's like you are reading my mind. Every time I want to make something, next thing I know your showing me how. I've been wanting to make my own version of panera's tomato mozzarella panini. Now Im going to go steal some tomatoes from my mom's garden. :)

  22. 22
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    Oh rach, you didn't know? Mind reading is one of our many specialties! ;)

  23. 23
    CIA-Cooking In An Apron says:

    I was just talking to someone about pesto and wal-la! I see you posting while foodblog surfing! Awesome post! Thanks!

  24. 24
    Kevin says:

    I just made some pesto today as well. It is an amazing thing and it can be used in all sorts of dishes. Those sandwiches are looking really good!

  25. 25
    The Wifey says:

    LOL Sara I just saw your post about my mom. Hilarious. Don't hold your breath. Just kidding, maybe I can coerce her into making a comment. She's done so many recipes from you blog it's about time!

  26. 26
    Deb says:

    Thanks for this great recipe. I plan to try it out soon. I adore pasta and pesto. I just recently found you and have really been enjoying your site.

  27. 27
    geegarland says:

    What other nuts are good to use in pesto? I saw a comment that walnuts are good….too bad pine nuts are expensive! I LOVE your blog…it's my favorite foodie one and I recommend it to everyone!

  28. 28
    geegarland says:

    What other nuts are good to use in pesto? I saw a comment that walnuts are good….too bad pine nuts are expensive! I LOVE your blog…it's my favorite foodie one and I recommend it to everyone!

  29. 29
    Kristin says:

    I just linked your pesto recipe to my new blog, I make pesto pizza with it which is awesome! Just wanted to let you know about the shout-out. Keep up the great work ladies!

    http://marleystuff.blogspot.com/2010/11/pesto-pizza.html

  30. 30
    sonali says:

    just made this today!!! it was so unbelievably good!!!!! my 15 month old loved it too!!! and it was so easy to make. thank you so much! i’ve already frozen some for future use as this will be a new staple in our house!!

  31. 31
    Ashley says:

    My favorite is to toss basil-pesto with some cooked gnocchi, I usually have it with a baby lettuce with rasberry vinaigrette, some grilled marinated steak, and toasted italian bread with olive oil and vinegrette to dip in….that is one of my favorite meals to cook for guests.

  32. 32
    Kat says:

    Is this in your book, I sure hope so! Are you coming to D.C area by any chance?

  33. 33
    Beth says:

    Oh my goodness! I made the pasta for dinner tonight and added some chopped rotisserie chicken breast to it and just used jarred pesto since I had it on hand and it was SOOO delicious! My whole family LOVED it! I am going to have to make some fresh pesto to keep on hand because I’m sure it will take this dish from delicious to divine! Thanks again for another wonderful dinner inspiration! I’m already anticipating eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

  34. 34
    Monika says:

    I just made this and spread a little on some bread! YUM YUM! Is all I have to say. Thank you! Love your blog!

  35. 35
    Trina Cudney says:

    So I happen to have no basil but a friend said to try out with all the kale I have on hand would that work do you think? I’m also dreaming of it on a grilled cheese sandwich….

    • 35.1
      sara says:

      Trina, the main flavor component in pesto is basil. I personally wouldn’t make it with kale, I think it’s worth a trip to the store for the basil!

  36. 36
    Morgan says:

    How much does this make? I’m making pesto chicken quesadillas for 8. Will this be enough?

  37. 37
    Katie says:

    I just tried the basil pesto pasta recipe and posted a review on it. Thanks so much for sharing! It was so yummy!
    KH

  38. 38
    Becky says:

    OOOHHH. Can’t wait to eat this in so many ways. Is there a magic way to make the links work? All of the –try it in this blue words– bring up a “cannot be found.” Thanks sooo much for making such fabulous food, and for teaching the rest of us to make it too!!!!!

    • 38.1
      sara says:

      We’re working out a kink that has inactivated all of our links. But if you google the recipe title with “our best bites” it will show up :)

  39. 39
    Becky says:

    Also–are pine nuts vital to the flavor? Is it worth doing with almonds or pecans, or are pine nuts so much better to wait till I can go get some?

  40. 40

    [...] Basil Pesto    (I took half this recipe and added it to 8 oz. of cream cheese for a different spread) [...]

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