It’s that time of the summer when the basil plants are growing like crazy and we have too much basil to use no matter how many Caprese salads or Italian tomato basil sauces we make. It’s time for basil pesto!
Pesto originated in Italy during the Roman empire. It was traditionally made by crushing walnuts, herbs and garlic with a mortar and pestle. Today we usually use a combination of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and fresh garlic and “crush” them together with a food processor. It’s a bit easier!
Basil contains many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can boost health when eaten regularly. The antioxidants are especially credited with many health benefits due to their ability to eliminate free radicals from the body that can cause cell damage and increase risks of chronic diseases. When you combine basil with heart-healthy olive oil and immune boosting fresh garlic you get a delicious, nutritious superfood.
Pesto is a versatile sauce that can be used to season and flavor many foods such as garlic bread, potatoes, pasta, pizza, eggs, sandwiches or other dishes where a major flavor boost is desired. Only your imagination limits you. It’s quick and easy to make up a big batch of pesto when the basil is plentiful and store it in the freezer to enjoy all year long!
Fresh Basil Pine Nut Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
¼ tsp salt or more to taste
⅛ tsp black pepper or more to taste
Add the basil and pine nuts to a food processor bowl and pulse several times.
Add the garlic and Parmesan and pulse several more times. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl with the processor running. Occasionally stop ans scrape the sides of the bowl.
Season the pesto with the salt and pepper while taste testing to get it just right.
Use the fresh pesto sauce to dress up potatoes or pasta, spread on toast, or any way that sounds good to you!
Store in an airtight container to avoid the pesto turning dark. You can also freeze any leftover pesto to use another day. Just thaw and enjoy!