If Basil isn’t in season, or if you prefer a more subtle basil flavor, you can make pesto with half spinach and half basil. I sometimes take this route out of necessity during the months I struggle to find enough of the herb to make a full batch.
Use High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It’s a healthy fat, which is a total score, and it’s also a focal point of the dish. You will taste the difference, so you bring out the good stuff.
Italian Basil Pesto
Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Vegan option
- 4 cups fresh basil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove grated garlic optional
- 2 TBS Pecorino Romano Parmesan, OR non-dairy cheese OR VEGAN OPTION: 1 tsp ume plum vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- pinch red pepper flakes
- zest of half of a lemon
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Toast pine nuts at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
- Put all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor and blend. Stop to scrape sides of bowl.
- Make sure to scrape down any large chunks of basil.
- Continue to blend the mixture and add olive oil with processor running in a slow steady stream through the top of the food processor.
- Once olive oil is added and pesto is blended, adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
Keep Your Pesto Green
I not only like the balance that lemon juice and zest adds to the dish, I find that it helps keep the pesto stay its bright green color. A sharp blade also helps with this.
Can You Freeze Pesto?
Absolutely. I do it all the time. I make large batches, portion out small containers, freeze, and then use the pesto as I need it. Works great.
Now find your inner Italian and go make some pesto! 🙂