Made From Scratch: Basil Pesto Sauce

Nothing says summer more than basil pesto sauce made with basil fresh from your own herb garden. Or from the store. No judgement here!

Basil Pesto Sauce || A Less Processed Life

Every year I have the best of intentions to grow a bountiful herb garden. After a few lackluster tries growing herbs in the plant boxes on our deck, I opted this year to plant all of my herbs in a single giant pot.

Basil Pesto Sauce || A Less Processed Life

And things were going well ... until I neglected to keep up with pruning my plants, so that they all began to flower. And now I have some very tall plants with only a few leaves on them. Whoopsies. Maybe next year I'll get it right.

Basil Pesto Sauce || A Less Processed Life

Until then, there's always the giant clamshell of basil on sale at the grocery store. I have a terrible tendency of forgetting about the little packages of herbs I keep in the refrigerator, but a recent purchase of a large quantity of basil, stored front and center in the refrigerator, kept it at the forefront of my mind. With a vacation on the horizon, I decided I'd better make some basil pesto sauce while it still looked nice and healthy!

Making basil pesto is a cinch and you can make a large quantity in a single go. If you like, you can freeze tablespoonfuls in an ice cube tray for future use, or just add a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto to keep it nice and green for several days in the fridge.

Basil Pesto Sauce (printer-friendly version)
makes about 1 cup

4 cups lightly-packed basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
fine sea salt

1. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir frequently and remove from the heat as soon as the pine nuts become fragrant.
2. Place the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine the ingredients.
3. Add in the cheeses. Pulse to combine. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.
4. Add the olive oil in a slow stream while the food processor is on. Continue adding the olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth consistency.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Store any leftover pesto in tightly-covered container in the fridge. If the pesto is a bit dry, pour a layer of olive oil over the top of it prior to refrigerating to prevent the pesto from turning brown.

Basil Pesto Sauce || A Less Processed Life