Pesto Recipe – Our pesto recipe is a versatile sauce that elevates pasta, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and crusty dipping bread. Like our Middle Eastern skhug or chimichurri with cilantro, the flavorful sauce is easy to make and ready in 15 minutes!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Olive Oil: Since olive oil is one of the main ingredients, use high-quality olive oil for the best flavor.
- Lemon: Bright the sauce with lemon juice.
- Pistachios: Toast the pistachios to pronounce their flavor.
- Basil: Use four bundles of large-leaf Italian basil.
- Garlic: I suggest using four cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – measure with your heart.
- Parmesan Cheese: Enhance the taste of the pesto recipe using freshly shaven parmesan cheese, or save some time with store-bought grated cheese.
- Spices: I season the zesty pesto sauce with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS
- Nuts: I use pistachios in this recipe, but change it up with pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or cashews.
- Greens: In addition to basil, you can add other leafy greens like kale, arugula, spinach, or watercress to brighten the sauce.
- Add Flavor: Take pesto up a notch by changing the flavor profile a bit; use roasted red peppers, jalapeños, or sun-dried tomato.
- Go Nut-Free: Instead of using nuts, try adding pepitas, chia, or hemp seeds.
- Make it Vegan: Use nutritional yeast in place of cheese.
HOW TO MAKE OUR PESTO RECIPE
The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Add the remaining ingredients, apart from the olive oil, to the food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the olive oil and whisk to emulsify.
Store the leftover in an airtight container.
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HOW TO USE PESTO SAUCE
- Pasta Sauce
- Wrap or Sandwich Spread
- Pizza Sauce
- Vegetable, Poultry or Fish Topping
- Salad Dressing
- Dip for Bread and Vegetables
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is pesto made out of?
Tradition pesto includes basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, and hard cheese; ours is a take on the original.
What does pesto taste like?
Pesto gets its bright green color and herby flavor from fresh basil. Garlic and cheese add salty richness to make a tasty sauce you’ll crave.
How should I store leftover pesto?
To maintain the bright green color, wrap the sauce tightly so that the plastic wrap touches the top of the pesto and is not exposed to the air.
Did you know you can also freeze pesto sauce? Homemade pesto is one of the best ways to use fresh basil from the garden, and I love freezing mine to use in recipes throughout the year. Spoon the pesto into an ice tray, crack them out, and add them to a reusable bag.
MORE SAUCE AND DIP RECIPES:
Pesto Recipe with Pistachio
- ½ cup pistachios, toasted
- 5 cups basil, loosely packed
- ½ lemon, zest and juice
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup parmesan, shredded, optional
- The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.