Classic Basil Pesto

Sauces & Condiments | 30 Minutes or Less, Batch Cooking | Vegetables

START TO FINISH: 20 minutes
Recipe Scoop Classic Basil Pesto

Cooking Notes

Pine nuts can be raw or lightly toasted. Other nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios and pecans, raw or toasted, also can be used.

We make pesto in various degrees of thickness depending on how we plan to use it. The consistency here is good for adding to pasta sauces and soups and gives an intense basil flavor.

We usually freeze pesto in small batches. The snack cup size plastic containers are good for this. Cover each container with a light film of oil. Alternately, pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays lightly spritzed with cooking oil spray. When frozen, pop out the pesto cubes, store in freezer-weight bags or containers, and to use, defrost as before.

Classic Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, to preference
1/4 cup pine nuts*
1/4 cup best-quality grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
Dash of salt, to taste

Rinse basil well. Remove leaves from stems and place them in a salad spinner. Dry well, and set aside. (Alternately, dry the leaves with paper towels.) Peel garlic cloves and drop through the feed tube of a food processor (or blender) onto a moving blade to finely chop. Add basil leaves and pine nuts to processor bowl, and pulse motor just until coarsely chopped. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add cheese to bowl.

With motor running, slowly pour 1/3 cup oil through processor feed tube and process until oil is incorporated and pesto is consistency of cooked oatmeal. Scrape down sides of bowl. Taste pesto and season with salt to taste. Add more oil (as before) until the desired consistency is reached.*

Scrape pesto into a freezer-safe plastic storage container.* Drizzle remaining teaspoon of oil on top and swirl to coat. (Use a bit more if necessary, depending on the size and shape of your container.) Pesto can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. The top of the pesto will turn dark when stored. This is okay. Just stir well before using. (To thaw, let container stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.)

Classic Basil Pesto

Approximate Values Per Tablespoon: 90 calories (90% from fat), 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 1.5 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, trace amount dietary fiber, 54 mg sodium

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