This recipe is the one I go to for a classic garden-fresh basil pesto that I can use right away or tuck away for another use later in the week.
Just four basic pesto ingredients:
All you need is fresh basil, fresh garlic, parmesan cheese (or any hard variety), and good quality olive oil. There's a reason I keep the ingredients to a minimum. I like to use this as a base pesto and adapt it for other dishes depending on what those recipes might call for. I hold off on adding salt and pepper, no pine-nuts, or lemon juice.
What uses do I find for this fresh basil pesto?
So many. It's one of our favorite sauces. I'll use it right away, as is over pasta or steamed potatoes. It's perfect for adding to a marinade or salad dressing. I love to make an herbed basil pesto drizzle to dress pizzas and roasted veggies. Then, there's adding it to Alfredo's and other cream sauces to add a twist with lasagna and linguini. For sure, we're using it as a pizza sauce, along with a little sun-dried tomato, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella.
Find an olive oil you like.
With only four ingredients, each ingredient has to taste great, so find an olive oil you like that isn't overpowering. I prefer lighter and fruitier olive oil, but if you like a full-bodied option, then go for it.
What about the basil for this fresh garden pesto.
People who grow basil will tell you how different each plant can taste, even though the seeds are the same. We grow a variety of basil plants, and I save the sweet basil for this pesto recipe. I reserve the spicy and peppery basil for other dishes. I try to use younger basil leaves, and I pinch off the stems and any flowering buds at the top. Older plants will tend to be more bitter, and bitter pesto isn't all that great.
New on the blog!
Purchasing from the grocery store works great!
Our local stores carry basil in small and large tubs near the tomatoes and garlic. I'll look for tubs with fresh, bright green leaves that aren't wilted or browning. I'll turn the tub over and look at the bottom to make sure it's not browning from the bottom. This recipe calls for a few cups of packed basil, so depending on the tub's size, I might pick up one or two. Local farmer's markets are a great option, too. Just be sure you're purchasing sweet basil, Genovese, or Italian basil.
You might also like these other basil recipes!
How to store this pesto:
If you plan to hold this pesto over in the refrigerator or freezer. Pop it into a container and tamp it down a bit, so it has an evenly flat surface. Then, top it off with a little bit of olive oil. The oil will act as an air barrier to keep the surface from oxidizing and turning brown.
If you're thinking of growing your own basil plants:
If you'd like your basil plant to be a heavy producer all season long, we have a video to show you how to prune it so it doubles and triples its growth. Our plants go bonkers, and it's hard to keep up with it. I'm giving it away to all the neighbors and making big batches of this garden-fresh basil pesto sauce for the freezer.
Garden Fresh Pesto
- food processor
- 2 cups basil fresh, packed
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 2 tsp fresh garlic rough chop
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- In a food processor combine basil leaves, parmesan, and garlic. Give a few pulses to roughly chop. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil, being careful to not over-puree or the olive oil could become bitter. Use immediately or freeze for later.