I didn’t grow up making pesto sauce. Not sure my mom liked them either since I can’t ever remember her ever making it. However, when I started my first cooking blog, I really began to experiment with ingredients I had never tried before. Since then, I added herbs to my diet, basil in particular.
A good pesto has two main ingredients: fresh greens and nuts but you can use just about any fresh green you have on hand like spinach leaves. It’s great for topping over pasta, chicken dishes and even fish. Making my own seasonings like pestos allows me to control the amount of ingredients.
The two Main Prep Ingredients for this pesto is of course is the Basil and Pine Nuts. Then, the rest of the ingredients come into play like: parmesan cheese and garlic. I’m not a BIG NUT fan, but when they’re all blended in together, I don’t taste them.
You do need to crush the garlic clove (if you don’t have a mortar, you can crush it on a cooking board with the back of a chef’s knife) and then you can put in chunks or finely chop it up. Add as little or as much as you like, I know some people like a mild garlic flavor while others, like me, like a lot!
As far as the nuts go, toasting them before making the pesto I find is much better because it enhances their flavor. You can buy them already roasted in the store or you can put some nuts into a pan over low heat and toast them until golden brown. Then combine them with the basil and garlic.
The other ingredients like garlic, parmesan cheese, and nuts makes the pesto have texture and big flavor. I highly recommend using the freshest ingredients you can find.
Good olive oil is an important ingredient as well and a little lemon zest for added flavor. Make sure you get only the skin of the lemon, because anything below it is too bitter.
It’s really important to have the best extra virgin olive oil you can find. It just makes the pesto taste so much better than generic store-bought brands.
Fresh Lemons adds that extra zest to the pesto sauce. When all blended, you have this lovely sauce that’s just ready for you to pour over your pasta, chicken, fish dishes or to make a pesto pizza!
So, here’s the full recipe:
2 cups basil (you can also use spinach if you want or fresh parsley)
1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted preferably)
1/3 cup EVOO (a good one)
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Grated parmesan cheese – about 1/4 cup or more if you like
Put ingredients in blender and mix well, sprinkle more parmesan over pesto as you like. Then pour over whatever you’re cooking. ENJOY!
NOTE: If you have leftovers, you can refrigerate it and it will keep for a good few months. Pouring a little bit of olive or vegetable oil on the top will help keep it longer as it creates a protective barrier.