¼ cup olive oil
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil or spinach leaves (see Notes)
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup chopped walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts (see Notes)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until all is mixed. Use a spoon or rubber scraper to clean the edges of the container between pulses. If needed, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons water to make the thickness you want.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Use within 3 days or freeze for long-term storage. (See Notes)
- Ideas for using Pesto:
- Add to flavor soups and sauces.
- Serve with grilled or roasted meat, fish or poultry.
- Mix with mashed avocado, mayonnaise or tahini for a creamy dip, sauce, spread or dressing.
- Add to scrambled eggs, omelets, quiche and frittatas.
- Use spinach instead of basil for a milder flavor. You can make pesto with a combination of most any leafy green, including carrot tops and parsley.
- Basil can be easy to grow at home, in the ground or in a container. Look for local basil at farmers markets during the summer and early fall.
- For more flavor, toast the nuts before adding. Place nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir often until they turn a light brown and remove from heat to cool.
- For a spicier pesto, try adding a dash of black pepper or red pepper flakes.
- No blender or food processor? Use a mortar and pestle or finely chop and mash ingredients. Start with the garlic and salt, then add nuts and basil. Stir oil and cheese.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Try freezing in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Remove when frozen firm and place in an airtight freezer container.