Homemade Pesto

October 08 , 2014 by: Marga Munson Healthy, Main Dish, Money Savers

There are simple joys in my life. Making fresh pesto is definitely one of them. It’s such a snap to put together, and tastes about a billion times better than the jarred variety (plus you don’t end up eating preservatives!). Another reason I make my own pesto… Garlic. You can adapt the recipe to be as vampire-repellant as you please. In my family… well, we’re Italian. We get down with the garlic stink. But if you don’t want to smell like you have garlic radiating out of your pores, you can always tone it down.

This is my recipe that I’ve developed over the years for pesto. It’s delicious on just about everything. You can even smear it on bread instead of mayo or mustard. And don’t forget about pasta. Mix up some noodles with a dollop of pesto… Ah the good life.





Makes about 2 cups

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (buy in bulk and stick them in your freezer to save some cash!)
¾-1 cup parmesan cheese
¾-1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic (or less… if you aren’t a garlic lover like me)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To start off your pesto party, you are going to toast your pine nuts. Doing so really brings out the flavor in them and makes your pesto a little more complex. Toast them in a dry saute pan over low heat, stirring frequently. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT walk away from them. It will take them several minutes to toast and get golden brown. If you leave them any longer, they will burn, and taste gross and you will have to start all over with a fresh pan and fresh nut (hehe…fresh nuts). That’s no good. Stay close and keep an eye on them. When they are done, take them off the heat and let them cool down.

While the pine nuts are cooling off, prep all of the other ingredients. I like to take most of the big stems off the basil, and then pack them into a 2 cup measure. When you have everything ready, put the basil, parmesan, pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture a few times, and then turn it on and stream the olive oil into the mixture. Here is where you get to decide. I like my pesto to have a saucy consistency, so I tend to use almost a full cup of olive oil. If you want it a bit thicker, then use less.

Open the lid of the processor, and season with salt and black pepper. Pulse 2 or 3 times to combine. Taste again, re-adjust seasoning if needed, and then enjoy! As you can see, I served in on penne pasta with some roasted cherry tomatoes. Yum.

The pesto will keep in the fridge for a week or so. If you don’t have plans to use it immediately, you have a couple of options for storing it. You can pour it into an ice cube tray for easy portions and freeze it, or pour the entire mix into Ziploc containers and freeze. If you pour it into 1 big container, I suggest pouring a small layer of olive oil on top so the pesto doesn’t brown in the freezer.



  • Nice job! I love the huge, huge, huge pasta picture right in mah face!

    I’ve always held off on making pesto because pine nuts are so expensive. Where’d you get yours in bulk from?

    • Thanks Jim! The pine nuts are expensive, I feel you there. I usually buy an 8oz bag from Trader Joes, which will run about $8. The trick here is storing them in the freezer. A bag can last me as long as about 6 months that way. You can also buy them by the ton at Costco, haha. And I don’t always make such a big batch, so the nuts go even further. Sometimes I’ll make 1/4 of the recipe for a quick dinner. Happy Pesto making!

  • I haven’t seen pesto that good looking since I worked at the restaurant where they made it homemade!! Pesto on French bread is magnifico!

    • Thanks lady! Pesto on ANYTHING is magnifico!

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