A great pesto recipe full of fresh basil, zesty garlic, crisp lemon, and nutty walnuts. It’s a classic pesto that can be paired with pastas, chicken, fish, soups, veggies, or grains.
Basil Pesto is one sauce that is completely worth the effort and time it takes to make it homemade. The flavor of homemade far exceeds any jar of pesto I have found. And with my tips on freezing your pesto- you will have enough to last the entire winter!
Every summer I plant basil, just in a pot, on my patio. And every summer I have an overwhelming abundance of basil. More than I could ever use by randomly plucking a few leaves for my pasta. That is where this pesto recipe comes in handy. It is a great way to use up all that fresh basil, making sure it doesn’t go to waste.
Here are a few tips on growing a healthy, long lasting basil plant:
- As the basil plant grows pinch off a few of the new, tiny, itty-bitty leaves growing in the center of the larger leaves. This allows the plant to grow wider and bushier.
- Do not let your basil plant go to seed. As the plant grows taller and older it will form flowers at the top. Pluck those flower buds off, down to the nearest basil leaves. This will allow the plant to grow longer and not dry out.
- Once your plant begins growing flowers at the top (that you are in turn plucking off), you should have a pretty tall and mature plant. This is the time that should harvest your entire basil plant to make pesto. Cut each stem towards the bottom just above the first (oldest) set of leaves. This will leave just enough plant to regenerate. By cutting your plant this way you will allow it to regrow 1, 2 , or 3 times thru the summer! Giving you a ton of pesto for your freezer!
Freeze Your Pesto
This recipe makes a large batch of fresh pesto. Probably more than you would use in one meal. The LAST thing you want to do is throw away all that beautiful green sauce. I like to freeze my pesto into small portions so I can pull out what I need a little at a time.
After making the fresh basil pesto recipe I pour it into an ice cube tray- in 1 1/2 tablespoon portions. Put the ice cube tray in the freezer. After a couple hours the pesto cubes will be frozen, pop them out and store them in a freezer safe bag. You can keep the cubes in the freezer over the winter and pull out the delicious homemade pesto 1, 2, or 8 cubes at a time.
I hope you give this Homemade Basil Pesto a try in your kitchen.
- ⅓ cup Walnuts
- 7 Garlic Cloves
- 5 cups Fresh Basil, packed
- 1 cup Olive Oil
- Juice of 1 Lemon (3-4 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Pepper to taste
- *Optional ⅓ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- In a food processor with the blade attachment blend the walnuts and garlic for a few pulses. Add the basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the bowl (also add the parmesan cheese if you choose to use it). Start the processor and slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto comes together and is blended smooth. You may have to scrape the bowl down while you are processing to make sure that all the bits and pieces get blended in.
- Now is the time that you can freeze your pesto if you are not using it all in one recipe. Spoon 1½ tablespoon portions into each compartment of an ice cube tray. Place the tray(s) into the freezer and freeze for up to 12 hours until the cubes are frozen. Pop them out and store in a freezer safe bag, up to 6 months.
- You can use the frozen cubes 1, 2, or 8 at a time for your pastas, soups, side dishes and dips.