Fresh Basil Parmesan Pesto is a classic, simple and versatile sauce. Made with fresh ingredients, it's hands down better than store-bought pesto, and it's super easy to make!
Use this basil pesto recipe for dipping your favorite Artisan bread, use it for flatbread chicken pizzas, or slather it over a piece of baked salmon.
GARDEN SWEET BASIL
I love to grow fresh basil. It's great to run out to my herb garden and grab what I need all summer long. Before the first freeze, homemade basil pesto is the best way to use fresh basil leaves.
If you don't grow basil yourself, the local farmers market in your area will likely have tons of basil for sale.
QUICK AND EASY WAYS TO USE TRADITIONAL BASIL PESTO
- Pesto Pizza - Create a fantastic combination by spreading a layer of pesto on pizza dough. Next, add mozzarella and tomatoes. Delicious!
- Pasta - One of my favorite ways to use pesto is with angel hair pasta. It's so quick and easy for making a delicious dinner. Add a generous amount of pesto, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes. Yum!
- Pesto Potato Salad - This unique salad is a great way to use pesto sauce.
- Pesto Shrimp - Saute shrimp until they are pink and opaque. Add a generous amount of pesto and coat each shrimp. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes until pesto is warm.
- Grilled Cheese - You'll need two pieces of buttered bread, a slice of your favorite white cheese and about two tablespoons of Homemade Basil Parmesan Pesto. Build the sandwich and toast it on a griddle. Pesto is a great sandwich spread that pairs great with lunch meat too.
- Baked Salmon - Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake salmon for 10 - 12 minutes. Immediately add pesto to the top of the salmon.
- Italian Chicken Meatballs - Use this pesto recipe as a dipping sauce.
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Fresh Basil - Other fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro work well as a substitute. Kale pesto makes a delicious salad dressing if you want to use something other than basil.
- Garlic Cloves
- Pine Nuts - Walnuts, pistachios, and almonds or even sunflower seeds can be used to make this easy basil pesto recipe.
- Parmesan Cheese - Be sure to use freshly grated parmesan. The texture will be off if you use powdered parmesan. I've also used a hard cheese like Romano cheese for a bolder flavor.
- Lemon Juice - Feel free to add in some lemon zest.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS
In a food processor or blender, pulse basil, lemon, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and salt until finely chopped.
While keeping the food processor or blender running, slowing add olive oil until well combined. You will have a grainy consistency. Keep blending until olive oil and other ingredients are smooth and a fine paste has formed.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
WANT TO STORE PESTO FOR LATER? HERE'S HOW:
The best way to store pesto sauce is in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Refrigerate: Fresh pesto will last in the fridge for up to 5 days. Mason jars work great for storing pesto in the fridge. It's a good idea to put plastic wrap over the top of the pesto to keep it from browning.
Freezer: Save your homemade pesto over the winter months by freezing it. Store in a freezer-safe container. Be sure to leave some headroom at the top of the container so the pesto has room to expand as it freezes. Pesto can last up to 6 months in the freezer.
I like to freeze leftover pesto in ice cube trays to make single serving thawing even easier (hello, pesto cubes)!
A freezer bag is another great way to store leftover fresh basil pesto.
MORE MEMORABLE RECIPES
Basil Parmesan Pesto
- In a food processor or blender, pulse basil, lemon, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and salt until finely chopped.
- While keeping food processor or blender running, slowing add olive oil until well combined.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze.