Making homemade pesto is simple when you use a food processor! This simple recipe skips the expensive and hard-to-find pine nuts, and is the perfect way to use up all those fresh basil leaves from your herb garden!
If you’re like me, you’ve bought some basil plants once or twice in your day. If you’re lucky (unlike me) your basil plants produce a surplus of basil. Then you wonder how to use up all that basil!
Never fear! Traditional basil pesto to the rescue! (Except we’re bucking tradition and not using pine nuts!)
The best thing about this recipe? No chopping involved! Just throw everything into a blender or food processor, and you’re good to go!
Ingredients for Basil Pesto without Pine Nuts
- fresh basil leaves
- fresh garlic
- walnuts, pecans, cashews, or pistachios
- Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, or powdered from the can)
- olive oil (extra-virgin olive oil is best)
How to Make Pesto Sauce
Wash and dry your basil. (Just rinse under cool water, and then pat dry with a clean kitchen cloth or paper towel).
Put the basil and all the rest of the ingredients in the blender or food processor.
Pulse until the mixture forms a thick puree.
That’s it! Could not be easier!
How to Store Fresh Pesto
You can store your pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.
If you want to store it for longer than that, I recommend freezing it. You can pour the excess into a freezer bag and store it for up to six months in the freezer.
If you want to store single servings, use the ice cube trays! Simply lay some plastic wrap loosely over the top of ice cube trays. Then spoon the pesto into each cube (on top of the plastic wrap). Cover the entire thing with another sheet of plastic wrap and freeze for a day.
Then remove from the freezer, take off the plastic wrap, and pick up and plastic wrap on the bottom. You’ll be able to remove all the cubes of pesto at once without having any get stuck! Place the cubes into a freezer bag and remove one at a time when needed.
How to Reheat Frozen Pesto
Simply pop the frozen pesto into a saucepan and heat over low on the stove. No need to thaw first.
Alternately, you can microwave the frozen pesto. The length of time you heat it in the microwave will depend on how much you are trying to heat. Stop to stir every once in a while, and keep heating in increments as necessary. Be sure to cover while heating!
For answers to more questions about pesto, be sure to scroll past the recipe!
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons walnuts, cashews, pecans, or pistachios
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, or powdered from the can)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Wash and pat dry basil.
- Place basil with all other ingredients into a blender or food processor.
- Pulse until mixture forms a thick puree.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks.
To keep your pesto from turning brown, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top before you store it in your refrigerator. For freezing instructions, scroll up in this post.
To make this recipe vegan, replace the Parmesan cheese with 3-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
To make this recipe nut-free, replace the nuts with 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds.
Why is my pesto brown?
Just like cut avocadoes and apples can turn brown, the same can happen to your pesto because of oxidation. This happens when air comes in contact with the cut basil leaves. To prevent this, you can store your pesto with a thin layer of olive oil poured on top of the pesto to keep it from coming into contact with air.
Why is my pesto bitter?
Extra-virgin olive oil has bitter tasting elements (called polyphenols) that can get dispersed in your pesto when blended. To fix any bitterness, add a little more salt and/or sugar to taste.
How to use pesto
Adding pesto to pasta is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to use pesto. However, there are tons of different recipes that use pesto in fun and delicious ways! Check these out!
How do you make a vegan version of this homemade pesto recipe?
The only thing not already vegan in this recipe is the Parmesan cheese. As a substitute, you can use nutritional yeast. Just use 3-4 tablespoons to give you that cheesy flavor.
For a nut-free pesto recipe…
If you’ve got a nut allergy, never fear! Instead of any type of nuts, simply replace them with an equal amount of sunflower seeds! In this recipe, that means you’d use 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds.
Choose your favorite to pin!