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How to Make Pesto

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Learn how to make pesto with this super simple classic pesto recipe.

How to Make Classic Pesto 3

Do you have a basil plant that is growing out of control? Make pesto! It’s easy to prepare in under five minutes, and you can make as much or as little as you want. 

Basil is one of those herbs that everyone seems to be growing. My sister claims that her basil plant that lives on a windowsill in Manhattan yields more basil than the plant my parents grow in their garden in Maine. Once basil gets going, you might have more basil than you know what to do with. 

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How to Harvest Basil:

The trick is to harvest your basil before it becomes bitter. In order to prevent your basil from turning bitter, you need to prune it regularly to prevent it from blooming. Once basil blooms, the leaves take on a bitter flavor that you might not enjoy. Prune away any blossoms.

When harvesting the basil leaves, you want to work from the top down, and prune as much as you want, just as long as you leave the two sets of leaves at the base of the stem. Regular pruning and harvesting will help your plant to grow.

The best time to harvest basil is on cool dry mornings.

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How to Freeze Pesto:

You can either pour pesto into an ice cube tray or you can pour a larger amount into a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. I usually like to do a little of both. The cubes of pesto are perfect for the times when I am cooking for one, or when I just want to add a burst of flavor to a sauce or a soup.

Easy Roasted Broccoli Pesto Recipe

How to Make Pesto:

I like to take the two minutes to toast the pine nuts before adding them to the pesto, but I realize that this is a matter of personal preference. You can opt to skip toasting and add raw pine nuts instead. If you have a nut allergy, you can skip the nuts altogether.

Classic Pesto Recipe:

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How to Make Pesto

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

My classic pesto recipe is made with fresh basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan, and a touch of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.


  • 2 1/2 cups Fresh Basil
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • about 1/2 cup, plus 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • about 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • about 1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper


    First, toast the pine nuts. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-low​ heat. Add the pine nuts and stir to evenly coat them in the oil. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes until the nuts are golden in color. Remove from the skillet (leaving them in the skillet will burn them) and pour into a small bowl. Let cool.

    In a food processor, combine the basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse to break down. Then add the parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine, and then slowly add the olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you desire. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Either use the pesto right away or freeze for later.


I like my pesto on the thicker side, but you can add more olive oil if you prefer it to be a bit thinner.

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Learn how to make pesto with this easy recipe for classic pesto!

More Pesto Recipes:

Avocado Pesto
Lemon and Roasted Broccoli Pesto

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