Are you looking for an Easy Basil Pesto Recipe? I have the tastiest and easiest recipe for you, as well as serving suggestions and modifications.
Easil Basil Pesto Recipe! Summer is the time of year to make fresh pesto! Basil is growing rampant and pesto is one of the best ways to enjoy this herb.
Don’t be afraid to grow your own basil, even if you don’t have a garden. I don’t have a green thumb and I have multiple plants growing on our deck right now. I love being able to snip off a little for salads, garnish or even a special cocktail.
Benefits of Fresh Basil
Many of the same benefits you reap from fresh vegetables can also be gleaned from fresh herbs. Did you know fresh basil is one of the top ten food sources of nitrates?
Nitrates convert to nitric oxide which signals the muscle fibers in your arteries to relax, thereby increasing blood flow.
What does that mean exactly? Well, if blood flow is restricted due to a lack of nitric oxide, your blood pressure goes up. High blood pressure = higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
So, let’s pile on the basil!
Easy Basil Pesto Recipe
I have been making my own easy basil pesto for years following my mother-in-law’s recipe. Although I’ve experimented with several variations that I want to share with you eventually, it’s best to start by sharing this base recipe.
Although traditional basil pesto is made with pignolia (or pine) nuts, this version includes walnuts. Why? Walnuts have the highest antioxidant and omega-3 levels and are cheaper than pine nuts.
In addition to walnuts, gather your fresh rind of Parmiagiano-Reggiano, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, salt and washed and dried basil. As usual, I have my mise en place. What is that you say? Fancy French term for “everything in its’ place” and my general life philosophy!
The key to this Easy Basil Pesto Recipe is the food processor. While traditional pesto is often made with mortar and pestle, the reality is most of us are not going that route. First, add the basil, cheese, garlic, salt, and walnuts to the food processor bowl.
Next add the olive oil by slowly drizzling into the processor chute while running. Stop the processor periodically to scrape the sides of the bowl.
This is one of many points where you can get creative! Do you prefer a chunky or smooth pesto? Simply adjust the amount of oil to your preferences. I actually added a little more oil to this batch than is stated on my recipe.
You know why I needed more oil? I added too much cheese! Yes, I miscalculated….we all make mistakes, right? I also deleted a bunch of my photos of this recipe by accident. Ugh….
You may like more cheese, so feel free to play around with the levels in this recipe. I did adjust the cheese for you in the recipe below.
Did you know that you can easily adjust servings sizes for any of the recipes on my site? Simply hover over the number of “Servings” at the top of the recipe card to adjust. Pretty cool huh?
Of course, pesto is best enjoyed fresh, but will store in the refrigerator for a week or more in a glass jar. Simply add a little olive oil to the top to preserve. If you are blessed with a ton of basil right now, I highly recommend increasing the amount you make and freezing the extra for later in the year.
You can freeze basil in plastic freezer bags or containers. My preference for freezing is to use my old baby food trays and pop out a few cubes at a time depending on the recipe. These trays are great because they have sealed tops to keep your pesto fresh!
If you do choose to freeze the basil, omit the cheese and add extra oil on the top. Once you defrost to serve, then add the cheese to desired taste.
Serving Suggestions and Adaptations
This Easy Basil Pesto Recipe is great with pretty much EVERYTHING! It is a nice dip for crudites, perfect sauce to toss with your favorite grain, tasty basting sauce for your favorite protein or wonderful as a base for pizza and flatbread.
I highly recommend substituting it for the hummus in my Rainbow Vegetable Hummus Flatbread . Consider switching the Cheddar for mozzarella for a better flavor pairing!
I enjoyed this batch drizzled over fresh Cherokee purple tomato. It is yummy!
My kids have enjoyed pesto since they were toddlers and I know your whole family will too! Again, play around with the level of ingredients and texture to suit your preferences. As always, present this Easy Basil Pesto Recipe in multiple forms for success!
Please let me know if you try this Easy Basil Pesto Recipe by leaving a rating or comment. Also, please tag @restandrelish on Instagram and pin to Pinterest if you plan to try later. I would love to see your pesto creations!
This Easy Basil Pesto Recipe can be prepared in 15 minutes! Serve with almost anything in your kitchen for a quick appetizer or meal!
- 1 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 c. walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
All nutritional values are approximate. This recipe is for approximately eight servings, however amounts and values will vary dependent on use.