Growing up my family always grew herbs in our garden depending on what was in season, and every year I looked forward to picking fresh basil when the weather warmed up. When I visit home my parents still send me back to LA with a bag of freshly picked basil to bring back for cooking projects, which is a pretty great smell to travel with! When I don’t have the luxury of stepping into a backyard full of fresh garden produce (one day!), I love going to the farmer’s market because I always feel so inspired to create dishes that celebrate all of those fresh flavors. I’ve been seeing basil pop up at the farmer’s market and my local grocery stores and what better way to take advantage of all of that flavor than in pesto?
This basil pesto recipe is another What Annie’s Eating recipe staple. Basil pesto is the most classic and traditional pesto, and for good reason. It is incredibly bright, fresh, and aromatic, which makes for the perfect warm weather recipe staple. I especially love the simplicity of pesto because it’s a no-cook sauce and it’s incredibly versatile. I love using this recipe as a pasta sauce, sandwich spread, pizza sauce, on bruschettas, drizzled over grilled fish or meat, and even in place of a salad dressing! Keep this basil pesto recipe in your back pocket when Summer rolls around, when basil is in it’s peak season and flavor. You will want to use this it on all things savory!
2 Cups packed basil leaves
1/4 Cup toasted and unsalted pine nuts ( I buy pre-toasted pine nuts if I want a no cook sauce, but toasting the nuts just before adding them to the pesto adds a delicious depth of flavor)
2/3 Cup olive oil
2 Cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon, and/or lemon zest
1/2 Cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Salt + Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
If your pine nuts are not pre-toasted, toast in the oven at 400* for 5-10 minutes, or until they begin to turn a light golden brown color. Once the pine nuts are toasted, pule basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor or blender. While still blending, gradually add your olive oil until all ingredients are well incorporated. Next, add the Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and squeeze of lemon juice, and pulse to combine. Bon appetit!
What are your favorite ways to enjoy pesto?