The Best Basil Pesto

Caper and Olive
by Caper and Olive
2 cups approx
10 min

I have made a lot of different pestos over the years. Some arugula pesto for a peppery punch, or a smooth and creamy spinach pesto, but this traditional basil pesto takes the cake.

If you are an herb fan and you find yourself with a over abundance of basil and want to do something with it before it all starts to turn yellow on you as the seasons begins to change, then look no further than this recipe. You can make a few batches (depending on how much basil you have and you can freeze it in small containers to use during the Fall and Winter months.

The game changer in this recipe is the toasting of the pine nuts. So sure you don't skip this step!

Recipe details
  • 2  cups approx
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 10 min
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  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3/4 cup pecorino Romano 
  • 2 large garlic cloves 
  • 6 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 

In a dry pan, over medium heat, toast pine nuts, stirring constantly to avoid burning, about 4 minutes.
Place toasted pine nuts, garlic cloves, pecorino Romano cheese and kosher salt in a food processor and blend until mixture resembles wet breadcrumbs.
Add in the basil leaves and return the top on with the middle section removed. Put the food processor on and slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil until emulsified.
Toss together with your favorite pasta and enjoy!
  • MAKE AHEAD TIP: If you are choosing to do this as a make ahead or freezer option, add a layer of olive oil over the finished pesto to avoid browning.
Caper and Olive
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  • SusieHmMkr SusieHmMkr on Oct 12, 2022

    Yes, toasting is a must! Totally brings out their nuttiness. I always toast pine nuts, usually to put on a salad (arugula, tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan, evoo, lemon juice...very light and refreshing!) I start out on med heat, frequently shaking the pan, then as soon as they become fragrant I turn it to low and constantly shake the pan or stir them, as they toast up Very quickly and can easily burn. I remove them from the heat just before I think they're nearly done to avoid burning. It's a lot like making bacon on the stove top, remove it right before its done because it keeps cooking a bit :)

  • Genie Genie on Oct 12, 2022

    Re the freezing, I previously read that freezing makes the garlic bitter, don't know if there's any truth to that, didn't try it.

    • Michele Tatro Michele Tatro on Oct 12, 2022

      My personal way to store pesto involves freezing so I can enjoy it all year long! I don’t detect any bitterness from doing this.

      Take a cookie sheet and line with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop to portion out the pesto on the parchment paper and freeze. Once frozen take off the cookie sheet and store in the container of your choice in the freezer.

      Add a lump or two to sauces, add to chicken breasts, add to pasta dishes, and so on and so on😋