Deprecated: trim(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($string) of type string is deprecated in /home/davecampbell/foodwatcher.com/wp-content/plugins/feedwordpress/feedwordpress.php on line 2022

Basil Pesto Recipe

This basil pesto recipe is a flavor-packed classic Italian sauce starring basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese! Got…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This basil pesto recipe is a flavor-packed classic Italian sauce starring basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese!

Basil Pesto Recipe

Got a load of fresh basil? Then run, don’t walk, to make a batch of this basil pesto recipe! It’s savory, garlicky, creamy, peppery, and you can slather a smear on anything. Is there anything better? Use it to take pasta from plain to magnificent, or throw it on a pesto pizza for maximum flavor. If you’re never made basil pesto at home: now is the time!

What’s in this basil pesto recipe?

Basil pesto is a sauce that originates in Italy (the city of Genoa, more specifically). The word pesto comes from an Italian word that means “pounded” or “crushed”. A pesto can refer to any type of sauce that is crushed, but pesto alla genovese, the version of pesto from Genoa, is the most popular version. The traditional ingredients in basil pesto are fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and salt.

Pesto ingredient notes

Pine nuts are traditional in basil pesto, but they can be pretty expensive here in the US. In this pesto recipe, you can use cashews or walnuts as a substitute. We’ve tested and both turn out fabulously! You can use any type of nut you prefer. Our favorite is pine nuts because they make for the best classic flavor. But the cashew version is delicious, and we always have cashews around.

Another feature we added to our basil pesto recipe is a squeeze of lemon juice! It helps to brighten the flavors and takes this sauce to a while new level.

Basil Pesto

How to make this pesto recipe

Basil pesto is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients together, but modern recipes typically use a blender or food processor. You’ll simply blend up all ingredients, then add the olive oil until the sauce becomes creamy.

Here’s how to make basil pesto:

  • Toast the nuts for a few minutes in a dry skillet, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  • Place the nuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.
  • Add fresh basil leaves, lemon juice and salt. Start the food processor and add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add a bit more olive oil to bring to the desired consistency, if necessary.

Pesto variations

There are many ways to change up pesto! Here are a few variations on basil pesto for you:

  • Easy Vegan Pesto or Vegan Cashew Pesto: Want pesto without cheese? These pesto recipes use tricks to substitute a cheesy flavor.
  • Walnut Pesto or Cashew Pesto: Swap out the pine nuts for a delicious spin!
  • Kale Pesto: You can substitute kale for basil in the off season! This spicy variation is also tasty.
  • Arugula Pesto: Spicy arugula also works as a substitute for basil!
  • Basil Sauce: This sauce is similar to pesto, without the nuts and cheese! It’s remarkably good.
Basil pesto sauce

How to freeze pesto

Here’s an important note! The best way to store homemade pesto, if you’re not going to eat it all at once, is to freeze it. Here’s how to freeze basil pesto:

  • Pour the pesto into an ice cube tray and pop in the freezer.
  • Once frozen, remove the cubes and place them in a freezer safe sealed container.
  • When you’re ready to eat, you can pop out small servings of pesto. Place them in a container and allow to come to room temperature on the counter or in the refrigerator.

Growing and storing basil

Ever grown basil? Basil is easy to grow at home: it’s very hardy as long as you place it in full sun! Basil adds an aromatic flavor to such a wide variety of recipes. If you’re looking to grow your own basil plant, go to this step-by-step guide, How to Grow Basil.

When you harvest branches of your basil plant and bring them inside, they’ll wilt after about an hour unless you follow this trick! Place a little water in the bottom of a large ball jar, then place the stems inside, cut side down. Add the top and it will stay fresh for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator! (See How to Store Basil for more.)

Basil Pesto Recipe

Ways to use pesto

Once you’ve made your basil pesto: what to do with it? There are thousands of recipes for how to use basil pesto online and in cookbooks. To help you sort through the clutter, here are our best recipes with pesto:

This basil pesto recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, use Vegan Pesto.

Print
Basil Pesto Recipe

Basil Pesto Recipe


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Heaping 1 cup (about 18 tablespoons)

Description

This basil pesto recipe is a flavor-packed classic Italian sauce starring basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese!


Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw unsalted pine nuts, cashews, or walnuts*
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus additional as needed

Instructions

  1. In a small dry skillet, toast the nuts over medium high heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the nuts to a bowl and allow them to cool slightly. (This step is optional, but brings out a more robust flavor in the nuts.)
  2. In food processor**, combine the nuts, cheese, and peeled garlic. Process until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds.
  3. Add the basil, lemon juice and kosher salt. Turn on the food processor and gradually pour in the olive oil. Once combined, turn off the food processor. Blend in a bit more olive oil if desired, to achieve a looser texture. Stores for about 1 week in the refrigerator and several months frozen.

Notes

*Pine nuts are traditional, but can be expensive. We’ve tested both cashews and walnuts and they have great flavor. Since we often have these stocked in our pantry, we use these variations more often than pine nuts. 

**You also can do the same method using a mortar and pestle, adding the basil leaves gradually and crushing them against the sides of the mortar. 

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Basil pesto, basil pesto recipe, Pesto recipe, Pesto

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Pesto Pasta Salad

This creamy pesto pasta salad recipe is easy and bursting with flavor! It’s the perfect easy summer side dish. What’s…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This creamy pesto pasta salad recipe is easy and bursting with flavor! It’s the perfect easy summer side dish.

Pesto Pasta Salad

What’s more a quintessential summer dish than a great pasta salad? Try this Pesto Pasta Salad recipe, which celebrates everything seasonal in summer! It features chewy bowties with pops of fresh cherry tomatoes, tangy artichokes and peppery baby arugula. Make a batch of fresh basil pesto or grab some at the store, then mix it up in to a creamy dressing to cover everything. This one was so irresistible, we couldn’t stop exclaiming how good it was after stuffing in each bite (and our 5 year old gobbled it up!).

Ingredients in this pesto pasta salad recipe

This pesto pasta salad recipe is simpler than most pasta salads because the ingredient list is short and sweet. The most important thing here? A high quality pesto. It’s best with homemade, but you can use purchased as well (see below for more). Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bowties (farfalle) or other short-cut pasta
  • Canned artichoke hearts
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced pepperoncini
  • Baby arugula
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Basil pesto
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt
Pesto Pasta Salad

For the pesto: homemade vs storebought

This pesto pasta salad tastes the best when you make it with homemade basil pesto, with fresh summer basil! Of course, we know that’s not always possible. Here’s the thing about pesto: purchased pesto varies greatly between brands. Many purchased brands taste intensely acidic or have an odd aftertaste. Here’s what to know:

  • Homemade pesto has the best flavor! Basil Pesto is best homemade. You can also try Arugula Pesto or Kale Pesto.
  • Purchased pesto brands vary greatly in flavor: some are very acidic. We’ve experimented with lots of different brands: and they all have a different salt and acid level.
  • Squeeze packs of fresh pesto are now on the market, and some have better flavor than jars. Experiment to find one you love!

Notes on the pasta salad dressing

This pesto pasta salad has a deliciously creamy pasta salad dressing that you’ll adore, featuring both Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and pesto. We made this one creamy because we find that pesto on it own can become sticky and dry. Mixing it with a little yogurt and mayo helps it to coat the pasta better. Don’t want to use Greek yogurt? You can substitute sour cream instead.

Pesto

Use any type of short cut pasta

This pesto pasta salad works with any type of short cut pasta you have on hand! We like bowties for this one because of the look and the way that it distributes with the other ingredients. Here are some other types of short cut pasta that work well:

  • Bowties (farfalle): our favorite!
  • Spirals (fusilli)
  • Penne
  • Shells (medium-sized)
  • Orecchiette
  • Gemelli
  • Gigli

Make ahead and storage for pesto pasta salad

This pesto pasta salad is a great salad for a picnic or a barbecue! It tastes best immediately after making, but it does store well. If you make in advance and refrigerate, you may want to refresh the flavors before serving since pasta salad can lose some flavor while storing. Here’s what to know:

  • Pesto pasta salad lasts for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. It’s great for cookouts or healthy lunches throughout the week.
  • After refrigeration, make sure to refresh the flavors. Bring the salad to room temperature. Taste and see if you need to add a pinch of extra salt. If the pasta salad seems dry, add a dollop of sour cream, mayo or pesto to revive the creamy texture.
Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

More pasta salad recipes

There’s nothing like a great pasta salad for a summer event, be it a barbecue, cookout or picnic! Here are a few more pasta salad recipes we love:

This pesto pasta salad recipe is…

Vegetarian.

Print
Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 12 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 5 to 6

Description

This creamy pesto pasta salad recipe is easy and bursting with flavor! It’s the perfect easy summer side dish.


Ingredients

  • 8 ounces short cut pasta (we used farfalle)
  • 14 ounce can (8.5 ounce dry weight) quartered artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ⅓ cup sliced pepperoncini
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup basil pesto (homemade or purchased, or kale pesto or arugula pesto)
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as desired

Instructions

  1. Start a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and run cool water over it until it’s room temperature, then shake off any extra water.
  2. Prepare the vegetables: roughly chop the artichokes and slice the tomatoes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pesto, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and kosher salt. Add the drained pasta, vegetables and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste and add another ¼ teaspoon salt depending on the saltiness of the pesto. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Allow to come to room temperature and if desired, add a pinch more salt. If the pasta salad seems dry, add a dollop of sour cream, mayo or pesto to revive the creamy texture.).
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pesto pasta salad, pesto pasta salad recipe, pasta salad with pesto

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Pesto Gnocchi

This pesto gnocchi recipe comes out irresistibly creamy in 10 minutes! Use this trick for a tasty and easy side…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This pesto gnocchi recipe comes out irresistibly creamy in 10 minutes! Use this trick for a tasty and easy side dish in a flash.

Pesto Gnocchi

Here’s a trick to a fast side dish or simple dinner: this Skillet Pesto Gnocchi! Get this: you don’t even need to boil the gnocchi! Cook up these Italian potato dumplings right in a skillet and they cook right in the sauce, helping to thicken it as they release starch. Stir in purchased pesto and you’ve got a bright and herbaceous sauce: in just 10 minutes total. This trick has become a staple in our house when we need a quick meal!

Pesto gnocchi: how it works!

Gnocchi (pronounced NYOW-kee) are Italian pasta dumplings made with potatoes, egg and flour. Typically in a gnocchi recipe, you boil it up then add the dumplings to a sauce. But in this recipe, everything cooks in one skillet! You can cook both the sauce and the gnocchi in just 5 minutes. That’s pretty magical, in our opinion! Here’s what to know about the process:

  • In a deep skillet, bring milk and basil pesto to a simmer. Once it’s ready, add the gnocchi.
  • Add uncooked gnocchi and cook about 5 minutes. The dumplings cook right in the sauce, and as they cook they release starch. The sauce becomes thick and saucy, then add the Parmesan cheese.
  • Adjust flavors to taste. See below!
Pesto gnocchi

Pesto to use, and how to adjust flavors

Here’s the thing about pesto: purchased pesto varies greatly between brands. Even more importantly, jarred pesto is nothing like the fresh flavor of the real thing. Many purchased brands taste intensely acidic or have an odd aftertaste. Here’s what to know:

  • Purchased pesto brands vary greatly, so find one you love. We’ve experimented with lots of different jars: and they all have a different salt and acid level. But when it’s the winter, it’s t the only option!
  • Homemade pesto has the best flavor! Again, this is only an option when you have loads of fresh basil. But Basil Pesto is best homemade.
  • After cooking the pesto gnocchi, taste and adjust flavors. Add a pinch or two of salt, then if it needs it add up to 1 tablespoon additional pesto. It all depends on the brand!
  • Lemon zest adds freshness. If you happen to have a lemon on hand, lemon zest balances out the flavor of purchased pesto.

Can you use homemade gnocchi?

If you have time and energy, you can make homemade gnocchi with potatoes and flour. But it’s a bit of a process! Do it on a day off when you have energy to channel Italian grandmother vibes. If you make homemade gnocchi, we don’t suggest using it here. We’ve only tested this recipe with purchased gnocchi, and homemade have a different texture. Add your favorite marinara or butter sauce for those!

Basil pesto
Homemade pesto has a brighter green color and fresher flavor than purchased. If you don’t have access to fresh basil, use jarred pesto!

Serve pesto gnocchi as a side or main

You can eat pesto gnocchi as an easy side dish, or even a main dish if you accessorize it properly! Here are a few things to note:

Pesto gnocchi

More recipes with gnocchi

There are lots of ways to cook gnocchi! Here are a few of our favorite gnocchi recipes:

This pesto gnocchi recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free gnocchi.

Print
Pesto gnocchi

Pesto Gnocchi


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This pesto gnocchi recipe comes out irresistibly creamy in 10 minutes! Use this trick for a tasty and easy side dish in a flash.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound purchased uncooked gnocchi
  • ¼ cup basil pesto (purchased or Homemade Basil Pesto), plus 1 tablespoon to finish
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to finish
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Zest of 1/4 lemon, optional

Instructions

  1. In a deep skillet, bring the milk, pesto, and salt to a gentle simmer. Add the gnocchi, breaking it apart with your fingers if any are stuck together.
  2. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the gnocchi are tender and the sauce becomes creamy. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until it melts. 
  3. Taste the sauce and add salt (we usually add ⅛ teaspoon) and if it needs it, the final 1 tablespoon pesto. Add a bit of lemon zest if you have it, which freshens the flavors even more. The amounts will vary since all pesto brands are differently salted and flavored. Serve immediately. The sauce becomes very thick as it sits, so if necessary, add a splash of milk and reheat, stirring until creamy. Store leftovers refrigerated for 3 days and reheat in the same way. (You can also serve this as a main dish like pasta: just add some vegetables and additional protein.)
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired

Keywords: Pesto gnocchi

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes

The best recipes are the simplest. Pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe cherry tomatoes and a splash of cream? Perfection. The best recipes are the simplest, in our minds. Don’t get us wrong, Alex and I love to master things like the best margherita pizza and artisan sourdough bread. But the simplicity of pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe juicy tomatoes, and a splash of cream can’t be beat. With seasonal ingredients, it will always, always taste beautiful and fresh. And that’s something we can’t get tired of! So excuse us if this recipe is simple. We promise it will blow your mind every time. Ready for some basil pesto pasta? Let’s get cooking. Related: Vegan Pesto Pasta How to make pesto pasta For the very best pesto pasta you can make at home, you’ve got to start with homemade basil pesto sauce. Of course, you can use your favorite purchased brand of pesto too! But making your own at home takes the flavor to new heights. To make basil pesto, you’ll need a food processor or mortal and pestle. (You also can use a blender, but a smaller and mightier one is best because it makes only […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

The best recipes are the simplest. Pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe cherry tomatoes and a splash of cream? Perfection.

Pesto pasta

The best recipes are the simplest, in our minds. Don’t get us wrong, Alex and I love to master things like the best margherita pizza and artisan sourdough bread. But the simplicity of pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe juicy tomatoes, and a splash of cream can’t be beat. With seasonal ingredients, it will always, always taste beautiful and fresh. And that’s something we can’t get tired of! So excuse us if this recipe is simple. We promise it will blow your mind every time. Ready for some basil pesto pasta? Let’s get cooking.

Related: Vegan Pesto Pasta

Pesto sauce pasta

How to make pesto pasta

For the very best pesto pasta you can make at home, you’ve got to start with homemade basil pesto sauce. Of course, you can use your favorite purchased brand of pesto too! But making your own at home takes the flavor to new heights. To make basil pesto, you’ll need a food processor or mortal and pestle. (You also can use a blender, but a smaller and mightier one is best because it makes only 1 cup, so larger blenders can have a hard time).

For the homemade basil pesto, you’ll need a good quantity of fresh basil. It’s best if you’re growing it at home, but if you’ve got to purchase it, that’s ok too! For 8 ounces of pasta, you’ll need 1/2 cup pesto sauce, which requires about 1 cup of basil leaves. (By the way: if you’re looking to grow basil at home, here’s all you need to know about How to Grow Basil. It is well worth your time!) For the recipe, we’ve got several different options for you: Best Basil PestoVegan Cashew PestoCashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto. Choose whatever fits your preferences and diet!

Here’s how to make basil pesto pasta:

  • Make homemade basil pesto by blending the following in a food processor: fresh basil leaves, nuts (pine nuts or cashews), Parmesan cheese, garlic, fresh lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Blend until a creamy sauce forms.
  • Start a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (tender but still a bit firm), then drain.
  • Add the pasta back to the pot. Stir in the pesto sauce, a bit of heavy cream, and some sliced cherry tomatoes. Season with kosher salt to taste.
Basil pesto pasta

A vegan variation on pesto pasta

If you eat a mainly plant based diet, you might wonder how to make this recipe vegan. We’ve got your back! Here’s what we’d do to make this into a vegan pesto sauce pasta:

  • Make our Vegan Cashew Pesto or Easy Vegan Pesto.
  • Instead of heavy cream, substitute extra-virgin olive oil and a bit of reserved pasta water, to taste (see the recipe below for specifics).

If you’d like, you could use something creamy like a non-dairy milk too: but olive oil would work just as well. Let us know if you have other ideas on variations in the comments below!

Pesto pasta

How to cook pasta to al dente

When Alex and I visited Italy on our honeymoon, we tasted pasta that was truly al dente for the first time. And it was mind blowing! This wasn’t the limp, gooey stuff we were used to tasting in the US. The pasta was firm enough that you had to really bite through each piece: making it infinitely more satisfying. When we returned home, we knew we had to figure out how to do this for ourselves.

Interestingly, we’ve found that many of the package directions on pasta call for cooking it much too long! To cook pasta to al dente, we boil it in a large pot of boiling water, and always start taste testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate to. The pasta should be tender, but still firm on the inside so that it has a little bite. Some chefs say that you should see a tiny bit of white on the inside of the pasta, others say it should have just disappeared. Whatever the case, stay vigilant: pasta can go from al dente to overcooked in minutes!

Pesto pasta

Looking for more pasta recipes?

This basil pesto pasta is super classico and one of our favorite pasta recipes ever. But, we’ve got lots more that have become fan favorites! Here are some of our best pasta recipes:

Pesto pasta

This pesto pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, follow the notes in the recipe. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Print

Pesto Pasta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Description

The best recipes are the simplest. Pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe cherry tomatoes and a splash of cream? Perfection.


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Make the pesto: Best Basil PestoVegan Cashew PestoCashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto.
  2. Heat a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, checking for doneness a few minutes before the package instructions indicate (the pasta should be tender but still slightly firm).
  3. When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the pesto, heavy cream, sliced cherry tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir. Taste and add additional salt if needed (the exact amount depends on the pesto and your pasta water, so it will vary — salt until the flavor pops!). If you’d like it to be a looser sauce, you could also stir in a splash of reserved pasta water or hot water. Serve immediately.

Notes

*This quantity makes 3 to 4 modest servings, so you may need to double based on your eaters hunger level.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Pesto pasta, Best pesto pasta, Basil pesto pasta, Pesto sauce pasta

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes