I’d guess that basil is possibly the most popular herb grown at home. So I’m guessing if you have an herb garden, you’ve got fresh basil. And it would be a complete shame to have fresh basil at your disposal and not make pesto!

Fresh Pesto

Such a quick and easy thing and you can use it so many ways. If you’re buying basil at the store, you could always substitute some spinach or arugula for some of the basil to stretch your dollar, but I think all-basil is the best if you’ve got access to it. Let’s do it!
Fresh Basil
Start with a bunch of fresh basil, and chop it in a food processor with pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese.  I love a little squeeze of lemon juice as well. 

Slowly pour in olive oil while processor is running* until you reach the consistency you want. It’s gorgeous and green and perfectly wonderful! Eat it right away or store in the fridge or freezer (directions included).

Fresh Pesto

*If you have a extra small food processor, or no food processor at all, you don’t have to add the oil while it’s running. You can process everything (or hand chop if you’re good with a knife!) and add the oil by hand. Processing it in the machine however creates a mixture that holds together a bit better than a hand mixed version.

Fresh Pesto
Now what to do what to do… Here’s a few of my favorite ways to eat fresh pesto. First and foremost, you need a fresh loaf of crusty artisan bread. Rip off chunks and dip it right in. No matter what you are eating- this one is a must!

Use it on panini. We made this dinner with a rotisserie chicken, garden tomatoes, mozzerella cheese and lots of fresh pesto (of course!)

Possibly one of my most favorite dinners ever and SO quick and easy. It’s like a simplified short-cut variation of this pasta dish. Put some cherry tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pop it in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. In the mean time boil some pasta. Toss the hot pasta, tomatoes, and pesto all together for a dinner that’s done in 15 minutes flat! Did I mention it’s soooo good??


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Fresh Pesto

Fresh Basil Pesto


Easy recipe for fresh pesto. Great on pasta, pizza, chicken, sandwiches, and more!


  • 2 1/23 cup basil leaves, gently packed
  • 3/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted if desired
  • 1/23/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • optional but suggested: squeeze of fresh lemon juice (couple teaspoons) plus a little of the grated zest.
  • kosher salt
  • a few cracks pepper


  1. Place everything but olive oil in a food processor. (For the salt, start with 1/4 t and add the rest at the end. The final amount really depends on the saltiness of your cheese, so give it a taste first.) Give it a few pulses until things are chopped up. With processor running, slowing drizzle in oil until desired consistency is reached. Adjust any of the ingredients to taste, this is a great starting point!


Freezer Instructions

  • One of the great things about pesto is that it freezes well, so you can make it in the peak of summer when your basil is going bonkers and then have it all winter long. Just put it in an ice cube tray and after it’s frozen pop all of those cute little cubes in a zip-lock bag or freezer container. Pull them out any time you need a burst of fresh flavor. You can also put the whole batch of pesto in a freezer container, freezer bag, or foodsaver bag.


Here’s a few more ways to use pesto:
-Use it as a sauce on homemade pizza. Love it on grilled pizza!
-Toss it with fresh steamed veggies.
-Top a baked potato (it’s super yummy mixed in with the sour cream)
-Put some in Kate’s Cheesy Garlic Swirls, instead of the butter and garlic seasoning.
-Slather it under the skin of a whole chicken and roast in the oven or crock pot.
-Dollop it in soups (like this one)
-Mix it with mayo for sandwiches
-Drizzle on scrambled eggs
-Combine with cream cheese on a bagel (yum!)
-Mix into salad dressings- it’s great with homemade ranch
-Pop it in some homemade hot pockets with mozzerella and pepperoni!
-Drop a frozen cube or two into homemade pasta sauce (both creamy and tomato based) and pizza sauce.



  1. I love pesto. And yes, thank you for the freezing tips. Sometimes I use walnuts when I don't have pinenuts. But I can only ever make a little at a time, because I have a mini food processor! Oh well, it was a hand-me-down from Mom, and I'm not a bout to spend a few hundred on that bigger food processor. 🙂

  2. EthidiumBromide- no, you absolutely DON'T have to add the olive oil while it's running! Directions always say simply for ease of preparation. Everything is already in there so it's easy to just pour in the oil and you do it while it's running just to mix it all up. You could totally just process everything (even by hand if you really had to) and stir in the oil by hand. And in fact, for a lot of things that call for adding the oil while the processor is running- I add it in by hand instead (like chimichurri for example) because sometimes processing oil too much gives it a bitter taste. So you have no more excuses- go make some pesto!

  3. I've always wondered… what happens if you don't pour the olive oil in while the food processor is running? Does it ruin the pesto? Living in a tiny little D.C. condo means I don't have kitchen space, so I just have one of the mini 2 cup food processors that does not have the option of adding things in while running (well, unless I removed the lid completely, but I really do not want to be scraping pesto off the ceiling). I've never made it because I've always figured there must be some reason why every recipe clearly states ADD OLIVE OIL WHILE FOOD PROCESSOR IS RUNNING! Does anyone know why and if it is still worth making it without that option?

    1. Definitely worth it! I have a big ol’ food processor, but I’ve always dumped all the ingredients in together, oil and all. It still tastes wonderful!

  4. Your posts are always just right no time!! I have a huge bunch of basil that I had intended to use on the weekend and it needs to be used now oe never. Why didn't I think of pulverizing it up?!? 🙂

  5. My favorite! As a base for a nice tomato bruschetta. Dressing for a cool pasta salad. On homemade pizza with shrimp, roma tomatoes and pine nuts. Love pesto!!! Thanks…

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