Do you have a herb garden at home? When I first started my herb garden I chose basil, thyme and chives. In sunny Central Queensland, the basil grew extremely well and I began to have a surplus. A thought crossed my mind, what could I bake with fresh basil? At first I tried homemade pizza with tomato, basil and different cheeses however, these recipes didn’t use up all the basil I had growing. Then I realised I was using bottled pesto in my pasta dishes and thought I would give homemade pesto a try. After a few batches, I’ve tweaked the ratios to create my favourite pesto recipe – plus, who doesn’t love the smell of fresh basil pesto!
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves (optional)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tablespoon Feta (optional)
Note: depending on the flavour of the basil and pine nuts, adjustments may need to be made to the ratios of the ingredients (if bitter, for example, add more salt & feta)
- Combine fresh basil leaves, spinach leaves and pine nuts in a food processor until roughly combined.
- Add Parmesan cheese, and garlic (minced). Combine in food processor.
- Very slowly, add the olive oil. Combine in food processor on low speed. The slower the oil is added, the better! The slowness of adding the olive oil allows the pesto to emulsify. You may need to scrape down the sides periodically throughout this step.
- Season with salt and pepper. Stir through half a tablespoon of crumbled feta.
- Voila! Fresh, delicious and aromatic basil pesto!
Hints & Tips
- I like to use a handful of baby spinach leaves to balance the flavour. This is optional. You could always add these in the food processor at the end if taste requires.
- Pine nuts can be substituted for cashews, walnuts, etc. To experiment with flavours, you could try a combination of nuts.
- It is very important
- I like to add Feta to create a creamier pesto to add to pasta sauce but this is completely up to you. Feta can also help to counteract any bitterness caused by the fresh basil or even some batches of pine nuts.
Wondering what to do with basil pesto? This pesto recipe goes well with pasta for an easy dinner. Cook pasta, stir through pesto, a tablespoon of butter and Parmesan. You could also add the pesto to pizzas, scrambled eggs, salads, toasted sandwiches…
Happy baking! L x