An easy recipe for a quick, homemade basil pesto sauce. But first, what is pesto and what is pesto made of? Questions answered.
WHAT IS PESTO
Pesto is a no-cook, flavorful sauce made of ground-up basil (or vegetables), nuts and cheese, which is then emulsified by an oil. It’s used to coat pasta, to add flavor to proteins such as chicken and shrimp, and can also serve as a dip and/or spread for fresh bread and canapes. Pesto comes in many different varieties.
TYPES OF PESTO
The type of pesto is mostly indicated by its greatest flavor component. The most well-known type of pesto is by far basil pesto, but there many other varieties such as sun-dried tomato, spinach, and even arugula.
INGREDIENTS USED IN PESTO SAUCE
Almost all of the ingredients used to make a pesto sauce are interchangeable.
As for the nuts, pine nuts are the most common, however, they can be swapped out for other types of nuts such as walnuts or pecans, if desired.
The same goes with the cheeses: Parmesan, Pecorino Romano and Manchego are all considered firm cheeses and could be used in a pesto sauce, with parmesan being the most popular choice.
Oils are also interchangeable. For example, you could use extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil or even avocado oil. Just be certain your oil is of decent quality.
A CLASSIC BASIL PESTO RECIPE
Basil pesto is my go-to variety, as we always have a great deal growing in the garden as soon as the weather starts to warm up in Texas…which I guess is pretty much always.
I keep it pretty classic with pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil, but remember, pestos can be extremely versatile. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make the recipe your own.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR PESTO SAUCE!
Use this recipe as a base (if you’d like), keeping the same quantities the same. Then, take over, swapping out one ingredient for another; whether it be your favorite fresh greens, nuts, type of cheese or oil. Just have fun with it, and as always, enjoy!
- 2 heaping cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 c cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup (about 1.5 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup high-quality Extra Virgin olive oil
Add basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
Pulse until ingredients are well blended. Remove the feed tube insert, and with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer the pesto to an airtight container for up to one week, or serve right away.
If you'd like to freeze the pesto, transfer to a freezer safe zip-top bag, remove as much air as possible before sealing, seal tightly and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Try serving with: