If you’re looking for a recipe for pesto using fresh basil, then you’re in luck! In this post, I will share my easy recipe (without nuts or cheese), and show you exactly how to make basil pesto with fresh leaves from your garden or the store.
I love garden fresh basil, it’s such a wonderful treat during the summer and I grow it in my garden every year.
I also love making pesto to freeze for winter use. I don’t like the taste of pine nuts, and so many traditional pesto recipes have nuts and cheese in them.
So, I decided to create my own, quick and easy basil pesto recipe without nuts and cheese. That way I can whip up a batch whenever it’s ready in the garden.
You can use my recipe for making pesto whether you grow it in your garden, or buy it from the store.
This basic pesto recipe has only four ingredients, and is super easy to make. Before I show you how to make basil pesto, we’ll talk about the best types to use, and how to prepare it.
Here’s what you’ll find in this guide for making basil pesto…
The Best Basil For Pesto
Heck, you could even try mixing the different varieties if you want to experiment with flavor combos.
Just keep in mind that each of these varieties has a different flavor, so they will definitely change the flavor of your basil pesto.
It’s fun to experiment, but if you want to make a classic basil pesto, then stick to using a sweet variety.
Making Pesto With Fresh Basil From The Garden
If you’re planning on using it from your garden, it’s important to know how to harvest it so that it’s as fresh as possible.
So below I’ll share a few tips for how to prepare basil for pesto. If you bought it from the store, then you can skip this next section.
Related Post: How To Grow Basil From Seed
How To Prepare Basil For Pesto
One of the best things about growing your own is that you can run out to the garden any time you want, and pinch off the exact amount of leaves you need to make your own pesto.
But, if I have a large amount of that I plan to pull all at once, I’ll grab a bucket of water before heading out to the garden.
Then I will cut each plant off at the base, and put the stems into the water. Otherwise it will droop very quickly.
That way I can take my time gathering and preparing all of my basil before making pesto. If you do this, just be sure the leaves aren’t soaking in water too long, or they can start to turn brown.
How To Clean Basil Leaves
Only choose the healthiest leaves to use for making basil pesto, and toss out any that are yellow or brown.
After they’re removed from the stem, rinse them several times to wash off any bugs or dirt. Don’t allow them to soak in water though, and be sure to dry them right away so they don’t turn brown.
The best tool to use for this is a salad spinner (best invention ever!), but you can use a towel to gently pat them dry if you prefer. Now I get to show you how to make basil pesto!
My Easy Homemade Basil Pesto Recipe
Once the leaves are no longer wet, it’s time to make some homemade pesto! I like to use this basic recipe to freeze for winter use.
That way I have a nice base to start with. I can eat it as is, or add whatever I want when I use it for my recipes. This simple pesto recipe yields about 1/2 cup.
- Food processor
- Measuring cups
- Zester (or fine grater)
- Spatula scraper
- Garlic peeler (optional)
Basil Pesto Ingredients
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, cleaned and dried
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 fresh lemon, zest and juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
How To Make Basil Pesto
Step 1: Prepare the garlic – Peel the garlic cloves by hand or use a garlic peeler, and then crush the cloves using the side of your knife. Set them aside.
Step 2: Chop the leaves – Put all of the leaves into your food processor and pulse it several times to chop them up.
Pulsing the leaves before adding other ingredients helps keep the consistency even. The leaves tend to stick to the side of the food processor, so use your spatula scraper as necessary to push them back down to the bottom.
Step 3: Add the garlic – Drop all of the crushed garlic cloves into the food processor, and pulse it again several times to mix it in well.
Step 4: Slowly add the olive oil – Open the feed chute on your food processor and slowly drizzle the olive oil in as you continue pulsing.
You can stop once in a while to open the top and scrape the sides to ensure all of the ingredients are being evenly mixed together, if necessary.
Step 5: Add the lemon juice and zest – Pour the contents of the food processor into a bowl, then use your zester to zest the 1/2 lemon into the bowl. Then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Stir everything together well.
Tips For Storing Basil Pesto
You can use your homemade basil pesto right away, or store it for later use. If you plan to use it within a few days, then just store it in the fridge.
Otherwise, it’s best to freeze it to keep it fresh, rather than risk leaving it in the refrigerator for too long.
Related Post: How To Preserve & Store Basil (Leaves Or Stems)
How To Freeze Basil Pesto
Freezing basil pesto is easy, and a great way to preserve it for winter use! The best part is that it thaws quickly, and tastes just as good as it did when you first made it.
The best way to do it is to use ice cube trays. Once they’re solid you can just pop the pesto cubes into a freezer bag for long term storage.
I use a mini ice cube tray that holds one tablespoon portions, which is the perfect amount for quick use in many recipes.
This is the best basil pesto recipe for beginners! It’s delicious, and making it without pine nuts and cheese is definitely healthier for you too. Now that you know how to make basil pesto, you can whip up a batch straight from the garden any time you want.
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More Garden Fresh Recipes
- Fast And Easy Homemade Chili Recipe
- Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Brownies Recipe
- Sun Dried Cherry Tomatoes: An Easy Homemade Recipe
- How To Make Homemade DIY Liquid Stevia Extract
- How To Make Bee Balm Tea From Your Garden
Share your tips for how to make basil pesto, or your favorite recipe, in the comments below.