Basil pesto is an easy but rich and flavorful sauce that’s great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in between. It’s so useful to keep on hand. Make ahead and store in the fridge or freezer for later use. This recipe will yield 1 cup.
Get ready: Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it near your stove. Set up a food processor with the blade attachment (or get your blender all plugged in and ready).
Briefly blanch the basil: Drop the basil leaves in the boiling water and blanch just until they’re wilted, 5 to 10 seconds. Use tongs to transfer the basil leaves to the prepared ice water. This stops them from continuing to cook.
Dry the basil very well: Wrap the basil in paper towels. Squeeze to wring out all the water and transfer to the food processor, along with the garlic, pine nuts, and lemon juice.
Blend: Pulse until everything has broken down into small chunks. With the processor running on low speed, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Do not run the processor too long, you want to have a little bit of texture to your basil pesto.
Stir in the parmesan: Transfer the basil mixture to a small bowl. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine. If your pesto is looking a little thicker or less smooth than you like it, add a little bit more extra virgin olive oil.
Serve or store: Use immediately or store for later (see “Notes” below for storage tips).
Toast nuts in the oven at 325°F until they’re golden brown. Keep a close eye as nuts burn easily!
Storage: Transfer the pesto to a mason jar. Cover with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil (this creates a seal and prevents air from getting to it). Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to two weeks. As you use some of the pesto over time, be sure to replenish the thin layer of extra virgin olive oil on top.
To Freeze: Freeze in a tightly-closed freezer-safe jar with a thin layer of olive oil on top for up to 6 months. Or, if you want to freeze it in smaller amounts, pour the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze until hard. Once frozen, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer-safe bag.