This fresh basil pesto with pine nuts recipe is easy to make in the food processor. It only takes 5 ingredients and can be used to add flavor to pasta, serve as a pizza topping, or spread on sandwiches.
The flavor of the sweet fresh basil leaves, the salty pine nuts, and the parmesan cheese is perfectly balanced and will add richness and color to any meal like pesto chicken caprese or shrimp pesto recipe.
🌟 Why this recipe works
This basil pesto recipe tastes just like the authentic Genovese pesto that uses the exact ingredients to give this versatile sauce a thick herby punch that is so delicious!
Pesto is the perfect sauce for mixing in salads, pasta recipes, roasted veggies, and smothered on meats. It's made with fresh ingredients like fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil that contribute to its bright green color and pungent, grassy flavor.
Like all basil pesto recipes, they are easy to make with just a food processor or mortar and pestle to blend the ingredients into a thick sauce, making it one of the quickest homemade sauces to make in a hurry!
The secret to the best pesto sauce is using the correct amount of each ingredient, as each one can overpower the other if they're not evenly balanced. Luckily for you, this recipe is perfectly balanced so that you can taste every element of this fragrant sauce.
With just 5 key ingredients and 5 minutes of your time, any home cook can make this versatile, delicious recipe to enhance any family meal. And because it stays fresh for over a week, you can use it on several recipes without running off to the shop to buy more ingredients.
🍽 Key Ingredients
If you want the best basil pesto recipe, use high-quality ingredients for a fresh flavor and bright green color.
Oil - Use high-quality extra virgin olive oil for better-tasting pesto.
Fresh basil leaves - The fresher, the better when choosing the best fresh basil leaves. You want to choose a bright green bunch without the leaves wilting with browned ends.
Garlic - You only need a small amount of garlic to bring a slight umami flavor to the pesto sauce.
Cheese - The best cheese for pesto recipes is parmesan cheese for its salty texture.
Nuts - The pine nuts add a soft, nutty texture.
The perfect substitute for Parmesan cheese is Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano cheese.
🍽 How to make
This traditional pesto recipe is so easy to make using fresh herbs and good olive oil. It takes less than 5 minutes using a food processor!
Place the fresh basil leaves in the food processor.
Add the grated parmesan.
Add the pine nuts. You may run the processor for 3 seconds to combine the ingredients more effectively at this point.
Add the minced garlic.
And 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a blender or food processor.
Blend on high until well combined into a thick pesto sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and blend to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a jar.
💭 Cooking tips
Toast the nuts
To give the pesto a slightly toasty flavor, bake the pine nuts in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or toss them in a hot skillet for a few minutes, then blend the toasted pine nuts.
Make sure to buy the block form and grate it yourself for better texture when choosing the Parmesan for better texture, as pre-grated packaged cheese can have a coating on it.
Prevent the pesto sauce from browning
To prevent the pesto sauce from browning after a few days in the fridge, stir in half a teaspoon of lemon juice.
📖 Recipe Variations
Three delicious pesto variations using the same recipe but with different nuts!
Pesto with almonds
The use of almonds in this variation gives the sauce a slight creaminess with a smoother texture. You will also need a tablespoon of lemon juice for almond pesto.
Pesto with cashews
Using cashew nuts instead of pine nuts adds a delicate buttery taste to the cashew pesto and makes it thicker because of the starch found in cashews.
Pesto with walnuts
Use walnuts if you want to give your pesto sauce a crunchier texture! They are also a cheaper option than pine nuts and work well in pesto recipes.
🥗 What to serve with
This pesto recipe is the perfect sauce to enhance any meal at any time of the day. Especially this sheet pan shrimp with vegetables. Easy and ready in 30 minutes!
Try some of these tasty suggestions to serve with it.
Typically, pesto sauce is used for the classic Italian caprese salad, made with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. But I love to mix it up by spreading the pesto on top of a chicken breast and baking it in the oven with a slice of mozzarella cheese.
Making your pesto and mixing it with cooked pasta could be the quickest pasta dish on the planet - and it tastes fantastic for lunch or dinner. You can even throw in a few cherry tomatoes and bell peppers for good measure!
My favorite way to use this delicious pesto is to marinate a chicken breast (or even a pesto salmon fillet) with the pesto for a few hours to infuse the flavors. And bake it in the oven with a good drizzle of quality olive oil and a handful of cherry tomatoes.
The baked chicken pesto recipe is simple, low-carb, and irresistible!
This pesto recipe is great for storing in the fridge or freezer! Same process as my homemade bbq sauce, you can always make a large batch and store it!
Fridge - Transfer the sauce from the food processor to an airtight container or a jar with a lid and store it in the fridge for a week.
Freezing - To freeze pesto, pour the mixture into ice cube trays and place it in the freezer. This makes it easier to take an individual portion from the ice cube tray rather than freezing the pesto in a container.
🍳 Related Pesto Recipes
If you like this classic pesto recipe, you must try one of these easy recipes with fresh ingredients. Including my easy tartar sauce to pair with crab cakes.
👪 Serving Size
With this pesto recipe, you will have enough sauce to make 3 or 4 meals. You only need a spoonful mixed in with cooked pasta or spread on top of the chicken, so there's no need to use it all in one dish.
The combination of fresh basil, garlic, and pine nuts is a match made in heaven!
Basil Pesto Recipe with Pine Nuts
- 2 tablespoon olive oil - cold pressed or cold Extracted
- ½ cup fresh basil - whole leaves
- 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese - grated
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- salt and pepper - to taste
- Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, grated parmesan, minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a blender or food processor, and blend on high until well combined into a pesto sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil, and blend to combine.