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Perfect Basil Pesto in a bowl with wood spoon and fresh basil
5 from 4 votes
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Basil Pesto

The key for bright green Perfect Basil Pesto is to blanch the fresh basil and parsley.  Add pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil for a flavorful pesto.

Course Appetizer, Condiment
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword basil pesto, basil pesto recipe, basil pesto sauce, pesto
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 202 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh basil lightly packed. Leaves only pick of stems
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves lightly packed. Leaves only pick of stems
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon garlic cloves minced or chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper coarsely ground
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, not from a can

Instructions

Perfect Basil Pesto

  1. Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil.

  2. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Set aside.

  3. Wash and dry the basil and parsley. Use only the leaves. Discard stems. Place in a wire strainer.

  4. Plunge the strainer with the basil and parsley into the boiling water and blanch for 15 seconds.  Remove the strainer from the boiling water and plunge into the ice water bath to stop the cooking.  Drain immediately, squeeze the water from the herbs and add to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the pine nuts, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Pour in olive oil. Process until desired consistency.  Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse a few times to blend. 

  5. Transfer pesto to a bowl or jar.  Pesto will keep covered in a refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. 

Recipe Notes

  • Blanching basil and parsley will keep the herbs from turning brown in the pesto sauce.  
  • Blanching means to drop in boiling water then quickly transferring to ice water to stop the cooking quickly.  
  • Make sure you use a wire strainer to make the blanching process easier.  It's much easier to drop in the entire strainer than to add loose leaves into the boiling water, which ends up cooking the basil too long.  

Freezing Tip:

  • Add about 1-2 tablespoons into an ice cube tray.
  • Once the ice cube tray is filled, cover it with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until it is completely frozen.
  • Remove the ice cube tray from the freezer and just pop out the frozen pesto cubes and place in a freezer bag or container then return to the freezer. 
  • You can now pull out a few pesto cubes that can be tossed with pasta or added to a sauce or soup.  I love having it available throughout the winter.

Substitutions:

  • Instead of basil substitute with other greens like Arugula, Spinach, Kale, or a combination of two.
  • Instead of pine nuts substitute with other nuts like walnuts or pecans. 
  • Try using seeds like pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds. 
Nutrition Facts
Basil Pesto
Amount Per Serving (2 oz)
Calories 202 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 4g20%
Cholesterol 9mg3%
Sodium 351mg15%
Potassium 105mg3%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1204IU24%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 174mg17%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.