Fresh basil pesto is a nutty, creamy, rich, flavourful pasta sauce. It’s incredible on pasta and particularly good smeared over a crusty bruschetta. This pesto sauce is also scrumptiously good as a dip served with vegetables.
The ingredients for Pesto include fresh basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil. It’s an absolute delight with pasta for any day of the week.
Is Pesto Dairy Free?
Traditionally pesto sauce recipe calls for a little pecorino and a bit of parmesan cheese. This pesto recipe is dairy free. It’s my preferred way of making pesto.
Why is that you ask?
Firstly, because some family members have a disliking to parmesan cheese. In my household, each individual sprinkles the cheese on top of their pesto pasta dish. Some of us like sprinkling a small teaspoon over pasta whilst others (yes me) the more parmesan the better.
Secondly, some are dairy intolerant and some friends are vegetarian.
Thirdly, this pesto keeps well and freezes for longer without the cheese.
If you want to add cheese I recommend 1/3 cup of parmesan and a 1/3 cup of pecorino.
You can make extra basil pesto in the summertime? This is when basil is growing plentifully in the garden? You can simply freeze it so you can enjoy it throughout the winter months.
What is Pesto?
Pesto is rich, lush, and a popular garden green sauce in the region on Genoa in Italy – AKA Pesto alla Genovese. It’s made using crisp, fresh basil leaves, pungent cloves of garlic, nutty pine nuts and smooth olive oil. Combining all these ingredients together with a good quality aged hard cheese such as Parmesan and Pecorino the basic recipe.
How do you eat Pesto?
Traditionally pesto is combined with pasta. Serving it with various pasta choices such as macaroni, fusilli, gnocchi, penne or spaghetti is typically how it is eaten.
It’s a flavourful, sweet, buttery, nutty, smooth textured green color sauce. It tastes great with chicken and fish dishes. And it livens up minestrone soups and stews with a spoonful of this basil garlic intensified sauce.
Eat it with pasta
Once you pasta is cooked, place it into a bowl or serving dish. Add the pesto to the pasta while it’s hot. Mix it well. The pasta should be coated well with the pesto. Serve the pasta with some extra pesto sauce on top.
What is the recommended amount of pesto to pasta ratio?
There is no rule about how much pesto you use. I like to use approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons of pesto sauce per serve and find this is just enough per serve.
Pesto is not only eaten with pasta. There are many ways of eating this full-bodied sauce. Here are some other ways you might like to eat pesto.
- Basil Pesto Dip – mix the basil pesto with some softened cream cheese. Add some chilli flakes to the mixture. This creates a simple and tasty dip.
- Garnish a Soup – Making a Minestrone or Vegetable Stew? Tossing in a tablespoon or two of Pesto will greatly lift the flavour.
- Salads – Drizzle over sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese. This is especially good!
- As a spread – Spreading pesto over your bread or wrap is a sure way of intensifying flavours to a boring sandwich.
- Pizza bases – spreading it onto pizza bases for a change in pizza flavours. Add your favourite pizza toppings then cook.
- Pies – spreading the base of a chicken or vegetable pie with some sweet, creamy pesto makes the pie base extra delicious!
- Potatoes – mixing some of this nutty pesto with boiled potatoes is really nice. Top the potatoes with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
- Marinade – brushing and coating chicken or beef skewers with pesto and lemon juice tenderises and flavours the meat.
How do you stop basil pesto from turning brown?
I’m not too concerned about pesto turning brown unless I plan to eat it as a dip or a spread. For pesto to be a vibrant green color follow this step before blending the ingredients.
Place the greens in a large pot of salted boiling cooking water for about 15 seconds. Strain the leaves then plunge them into a bowl of ice water and pat dry. You can also use a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.
Homemade pesto will last for about 7 days in an airtight container or bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge. For smaller portions, freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray. Pesto will last for up to 12 months in the freezer. If you have cheese in your pesto then it can keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.
While you can buy goody quality pesto, nothing beats making it yourself at home. This recipe is one of the easiest sauces to make at home.
Basil Pesto Recipe
- 4 cups basil (washed and dried with a salad spinner)
- 4 tbsp dry roasted pine-nuts
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Wash the basil leaves under cold water. Place them in a salad spinner to remove any excess water.
- Place the pine-nuts into a non-stick pan and dry roast on low-medium heat mixing them constantly until the begin to brown and toast. Do not use any oil in the pan. The heat will begin to release the natural oils in the nut. Remove and allow to cool.
- In a food processor, add the basil, pine-nuts, garlic, olive oil and salt and blend until fine and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the food processor to ensure all basil and nuts are finely chopped and combined well.
- Drying the basil in a salad spinner is a vital step. It removes any moisture from the leaves which helps to create a thick, creamy pesto as opposed to a watery one.
- Always toast your pine-nuts. They intensify the nutty flavour of the pesto and release the natural oils of the nuts making this a rich sauce.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You may freeze the pesto for up to 6 months.
- Tip - individually measure each serving size before freezing (approx. 1-2 tablespoons per person)
PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW WHETHER YOU ENJOYED THIS PESTO SAUCE!
Meanwhile enjoy the goodness of homemade and simply satisfying meals!