Leggi questo post in: Italiano
I live in southern Italy, aka the capital of Basil-land. Nearly every home has at least one basil plant and those plants can easily grow into thick masses of fragrant green leaves. I am no exception to the rule. Every year I have two or three pots with forests of basil and over the years I have come up with my own foolproof basil pesto recipe!
If you follow my tips on how to grow a flourishing basil plant, you too will soon have lots of this herb to use in all sorts of ways. And sooner or later, you will want to make pesto, one of the most delicious sauces ever created. It’s one of the few healthy green things that kids almost unanimously like to eat.
So I’ve decided not only to share my pesto recipe, but also to share 15 absolutely delicious ways you can use it for meals that the entire family will love!
Ready to get picking, mixing and cooking? Let’s start!
Foolproof Basil Pesto Recipe:
First of all, pick tons of nice-looking basil leaves from your plant. Remember, as I said in my post on growing beautiful basil plants year after year without spending, to pop off the top of each stem. Don’t peel single leaves off the stems, otherwise the plant won’t continue to grow and fill out.
Rinse off the leaves in cold water, dry them in a salad spinner and lay them out on a dish towel so that they can finish air drying.
- 85 g. (3 oz.) clean fresh basil leaves
- 10 g. pine nuts (1/3 oz.), minced (about 1/3 of a shot glass)
- 15 g. (1/2 oz.) pecorino romano cheese, grated (about 2/3 of a shot glass) – if you can’t get pecorino, use real grated parmesan, although the flavor will be slightly less lackluster
- 90 gr. (3 oz.) extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 tsp. salt (add a touch more if using parmesan instead of pecorino)
Mix all the ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender until well mixed and there are no chunks of ingredients left. It’s ok if there are little bits of pine nuts or garlic. Add extra salt, garlic, pine nuts and cheese to taste if desired. The flavor of these ingredients can really vary, so you might need to add a little more or less of any given one.
I use an immersion blender to make pesto. What I do is weigh the tall container that comes with the blender, then add basil until it gets to 85 grams more than the weight of the container. I note the new weight, then continue adding ingredients this way. Then I blend it and taste test it. So easy!
One thing to note is that contact with the air will make your pesto turn dark. I don’t believe that it changes the taste of it, but it does look slightly less pretty that way!
How to store homemade pesto
The easiest way it to just put it in a jar. Make sure that there is enough oil to cover the top of the pesto so that it won’t dry out. It can stay in the fridge for a for days at least like this.
If you’ve made a lot of pesto, I highly recommend you freeze it. I have an ice cube tray that I use only for freezing pesto. Fill up the spaces with pesto, cover it, then put it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer bag or other freezer-safe container.
Take however many pesto cubes you need out of the freezer at least a few hours before you want to use them, that way they can defrost. I don’t have a microwave, so I have no idea if thawing them out that way changes the flavor.
15 DELICIOUS ways to use pesto in your cooking!
Ok, so now you have lots of pesto, let’s use it! I’m going to start with really easy ways that I use pesto all the time.
1. Pasta con pesto
This is the classic way to use pesto. It’s great with pretty much any type of pasta. Here I’ve used trofie. Just cook your pasta, drain it, and mix the pesto in. This is the classic healthy last minute meal in Italian families!
2. Vegetables with pesto
Pesto has a wonderful flavor that goes with nearly everything. Mix it with a tomato salad. Drizzle it on top of grilled asparagus. Or add it to cubed steamed potatoes and sprinkle pieces of salt-preserved lemon on top, as I did here. The possibilities are endless!
3. Grilled cheese and pesto
Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? Give it a little extra zing by spreading a layer of pesto inside! Yum!
4. Pesto tofu spread
This creamy spread is fantastic on toasted bread (bruschette, for you more fancy types!), but you can also put some in your plate to accompany the rest of your meal. But I rarely can resist just sneaking spoonfuls of it every so often! It’s a great healthy snack. Simply cut up a piece of tofu and mix it in a blender with some pesto, adding a bit of oil and/or salt if necessary. I don’t have a specific tofu-pesto ratio, but just taste test it as I go.
5. Tomato soup with pesto
I have been making this recipe of tomato soup for years, and people are always requesting it when they come over to eat. Everyone loves it. One of the secrets to the amazing flavor of this special recipe is a bit of pesto. I don’t even bother defrosting my pesto cubes, but just drop them directly in the pot of soup and stir until they’ve melted.
6. Chilled pesto rice
This is pretty similar to pasta with pesto, but I think it tastes great in the summer when slightly chilled. Just cook the rice and mix the pesto in while still hot. Let it sit a little bit to cool down and put it in the refrigerator if you wish.
Those are really simple ways that I use pesto normally, because I quite honestly rarely get too elaborate in the kitchen. But there is really no end to the absolutely delicious ways you can use pesto in your cooking. So here are some other mouthwatering ways to cook with pesto!
Vegetarian and Vegan recipes
7. Pesto Spinach Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes
8. Chickpea Pesto Salad
9. Vegan Pesto Pizza with Balsamic Glaze
10. Pesto and Cheese Twists
Recipes with meat
11. Chicken Pesto Kabobs
12. Grilled Pesto Turkey Burgers
13. Sausage Pesto Lasagna Rollups
Recipes with seafood
14. Pesto Salmon and Italian Veggies in Foil
15. Pesto Shrimp Mushroom Pasta
So now that you know how to grow a gorgeous full basil plant, you have this foolproof basil pesto recipe and you know how to use your pesto, you have no excuses for not making a batch of pesto! Bon appétit!
What are your favorite ways to use basil pesto? Share them in the comments below! And rememeber to Pin this post here!
If you love cooking with good handmade ingredients, make sure you try out my Lemon Rosemary Garlic Salt!
Or make your own healthy breadcrumbs from your leftover stale bread! You’ll never go back to using storebought breadcrumbs!