Easy Basil Pesto Recipe, Just In Time

basil leaves covering the table

The basil has been soaking up the sun and warm temperatures. Now, it’s time to make some basil pesto, to preserve all of that sunshine for the cold, short days of winter.

Pesto alla Genovese

Looking at last year’s photo, I’m surprised to discover that I made pesto exactly one year and a day ago. The instinct to preserve that basil must run deep!

While I was stripping leaves off the stems, I thought about the word “pesto.” It sounds like “paste” to me, so I assumed that “pesto” means paste in Italian.

stem of basil
Strip only the leaves off the stem for the sauce.

Wrong!

“Pesto”  comes from the word for “pestle,” as in a mortar and pestle; and pestle comes from the Italian “pestare,” which means to crush or pound. This is how pesto was made before the advent of small electric appliances.

stalk of basil stripped of leaves
The stripped stalk

It’s a lot easier to make pesto today, thankfully.

Pesto can refer to various sauces made by crushing or pounding. For basil pesto sauce, the proper name is “pesto alla genovese.” It is by far the most popular pesto, and so we have shortened the name to refer to it.

Pesto also can be made from parsley, mint, cilantro, and sage.

Basil Pesto or Pistou

Over the years, I’ve tried many recipes for pesto. Sometimes, I’m disappointed by the blandness, other times I’m overcome by the garlic.

Last year, I didn’t have any pine nuts on hand, so I made it without them.

You know what? I actually liked the taste better, especially when adding it to recipes like Caprese Chicken and Veggie Wraps, or stirring it into marinara sauce.

Reading a bit further, it seems that my recipe is nothing new. It was made in Provence, France, long before I “invented” it. There, it is referred to as “pistou,” (“pounded”), and is akin to pesto alla genovese  without the pine nuts.

Where you decide to go nuts, or not, know that a long tradition of fine cooking is standing behind you.

Basil Pistou
Prep Time
20 mins
 
Course: sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 250 kcal
Author: A. JoAnn
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 c. basil leaves packed (about two 15" stalks)
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. crushed garlic about two cloves
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp. sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
Instructions
  1. Wash basil stalks in sink, then set on a dish towel to dry.

  2. Remove the basil leaves from the stems. Discard the flowers and stems. Place the basil leaves in blender container.

    stalk of basil stripped of leaves
  3. Add all other ingredients. If possible, use "pulse" mode on the blender to thoroughly mix ingredients; or, remove container and use a spatula to push down ingredients so that the sauce is uniform.
    stalk of basil stripped of leaves
  4. Sea salt and garlic quantities can be adjusted to your taste.
  5. Check that the consistency of the sauce is uniform.
  6. The sauce will get more tasty as the flavors have time to meld; so if you plan on using your sauce the day you make it, give it several hours to sit. 
  7. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to a week (sometimes, longer), or preserve it. I freeze my sauce in small portions that can be defrosted as needed.
Recipe Notes

(makes about 1 c. sauce)

 

 

stalk of basil stripped of leaves
The mighty blender cup

 

sea salt and crushed garlic
Sea salt and garlic quantities can be adjusted to your taste.
pesto in blender container
Check that the consistency of the sauce is uniform.

 

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5 comments

  1. I can practically smell that fragrant basil from here in Washington! Looks like you have preserved much wonderful flavor for the months ahead.

    1. We had some today with tortellini – yummy. Thanks for stopping by!

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