Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How To: Make Your Own Basil Pesto

I love pesto. Just the smell alone is enough to get my mouth watering. I love the garlic and basil smell that comes wafting up when your making it. It's just a few ingredients and takes no more effort then turning on your food processor. Making your own taste so much fresher, and more fragrant then what you buy in the store. You control the quality of the ingredients and how much salt is in it. The only ingredient you might not be familiar with is Pine Nuts. Pine nuts really do come from pine cones. They are actually seeds that are protected by the "scales" of the cone. The sides are often harvested by hand which is what makes them a more expensive ingredient. This doesn't mean you can go out to your back yard, collect pine cones and harvest the seeds. There are only a few pines in North America that are used and it can take upwards of 25 years for the trees to start producing the seeds. Now that you know what they are, pick some up next time your in the grocery store and give them a try. They are an essential ingredient in Pesto and can be used in several other dishes as well. Now, onto the pesto!

What You Need:

1/4 c pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
2 c packed fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
2/3 c olive oil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

What To Do:

Toast the pine nuts by putting them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Check and stir them often because once they start to toast, they can burn very quickly. Once they're cooled, add them into your food processor.

Add in the garlic, basil leaves, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse your food processor a few times to get it going, then let it rip until everything is all chopped up fine.

With the processor running, slowly add in the olive oil. Remove the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. You can add more oil to it if you prefer it thinner. It will last a couple weeks in the fridge, but you can freeze it in ice cube trays and thaw it when you need it. It's great on grilled chicken or fish and of course on pasta.


  1. I have never made pesto because I never needed a whole batch (well I guess on pasta I could have used it) but anyways, never did I think to freeze it, duh! What a great idea! On chicken do you just put it on after it's done or cook it with it on?

  2. Loni,
    I actually grill chicken breast tonight with some pesto on it. You do run the risk of burning the pesto which wouldn't be tasty so I wouldn't cook it over a the flame, or in a pan on the stove top.


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