Monday, July 25, 2011

Homemade Pesto with Fresh Basil

I think we’ve established that I’m Italian from my previous post apt. style gardening, somehow choosing to grow every possible ingredient for pasta sauce. Since it has been nearly 100 degrees this past week in good ole Northeast Ohio, even the thought of turning on the stove seems like a death trap. While watering our patio forest this morning the rich aroma of basil continued to linger; the smell alone reminds me of my late grandmother, which always leads to pleasant memories in the kitchen. So today, in honor and remembrance of my gramma, I decided to try my best at replicating her homemade pesto recipe. If you know anything about old, Italian woman you know that their recipes are very precious to them and not to be given out to just anybody. In order to keep her recipes concealed, gramma memorized all of them. She knew by the smell, color, taste, etc. how much more of this or that, how much longer, or what it was missing. I cooked alongside her for years trying to understand how she did this. I guess I picked up more than I realized because I am constantly skimming through the cupboard for “just the right thing.”
As for the pesto recipe, no it’s not gramma’s original (I don’t believe it ever made it onto paper) but I wasn’t satisfied until I added a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that, you know, for good measure! Keep in mind that gramma would have been shocked to learn that I used a food processor for chopping. She chopped all ingredients by hand because that is how she learned in Italy. If she were here today, she would yell at me saying that I am becoming a lazy American with all of my machines. She’s right. Chopping the listed ingredients by hand will change the flavor and texture of the pesto; ultimately it will be better. If you have the time, give it a try. As for me, I took the easy way out… for now! Below is the base recipe of the pesto that I began with. Beyond that I encourage you to dig through your cupboards adding flavors of things you and your family regularly enjoy. It’s the special touch that makes it yours.
Equipment: A food processor, or chopper.
- 2 c. of freshly picked basil leaves (pack these into the measuring cup)
- 1/3 c. pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts (I used pecans, I prefer the flavor)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced finely or 1 heaping TBSP of minced garlic
- 1 TBSP of lemon juice (necessary for coloring of the pesto to remain intact)
- ¼ c. EVOO- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Do Not use cooking oil as substitute)
- ¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (only add this if eating all pesto right away)

This recipe should make about 1 cup of pesto, or 10 cubes in an ice cube tray!

Step 1 - Pick the basil leaves. Be sure to discard any flower buds, stem or unhealthy leaves. Wash leaves thoroughly with cold water in a large bowl.

Step 2 – Chop the nuts, garlic, & EVOO in the food processor, or chop adding small increments of each ingredient as you go.

Step 3 – Add basil leaves and lemon juice to food processor. Chop until the mixture forms a thick, smooth paste.

Step 4 – OPTIONAL –add grated Parmesan cheese to mixture. If you plan to freeze the pesto in cubes DO NOT add in until ready for use.

Enjoy! Pretty simple, right?!

**Additional info:

Fresh pesto will keep when refrigerated for up to a week, frozen- up to 6 months.

I found a photo on Pinterest that suggested freezing the finished pesto into ice cube trays. Great idea! Once frozen, pop out and transfer them all into a freezer bag, and use as needed!


  1. Mmm... Pesto! My Grandma is the same way about cooking, but I am fortunate that she actually will write things down for me if I ask her to. I'm jealous of your fresh produce. I'm the real lazy American here... I can't bring myself to put in the effort to start a garden!

  2. I love the idea of freezing the pesto. I too am growing some basil however, your leaves look so much better than mine.


  3. Kaitlin - I still find it cute when grandmother's hoard there recipes; our generation is so much more friendly with theirs :)

    Erin- Thanks, daily basil inspired dinners were not my goal when I started the garden haha! It becomes such a huge plant; I had no idea when I started! Keep watering, yours will take over your garden as well :)

  4. Yum! Yum! Yum!

    Thank you for the pesto recipe.
    I had THE BEST pesto in Cinque Terre last summer! ♥

    Looking forward to trying your recipe.

  5. Hi there!

    Mmmm... this is a yummy post. Love your recipe, will give it a go. Great to meet you through Bloggers of Etsy. Look forward to reading your future posts!

    Feel welcome to visit my blog:

    Rodica Preda (Margica)

  6. Mmm! I'm bookmarking this one--I've got a ton of basil, and I didn't know what to do with it all. Now I do :)

  7. This recipe looks yummy!! I tried a pesto recipe recently that used kale instead of basil, and pine nuts as well. It was awesomely good.

  8. Looks delicious! I've made pesto twice this week :)
    Love the ice cube idea.

  9. Thanks! Pinterest is has the most clever ideas that are typically sitting right under our noses; I love it!

  10. My mom taught me the ice cube tray when I was little and I use it all the time :) Love homemade pesto, it's yummy! New follower from blogaholic, have a great evening! You can find me at

  11. Freezing it in the ice cube trays is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  12. great post and blog, following from etsy blog team.


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