Sweet basil is a popular ingredient for many Mediterranean cuisines. It is often used in Italian dishes and is the star ingredient in our recipe today. Blender Basil Pesto is a savory dish that may quickly become a family favorite!
As you can see here, I just got finished picking a whole basketful of basil from my herb garden, and I can’t wait to share with you one of my favorite uses for basil – PESTO!
What is Pesto Anyway?
The word pesto comes from the Italian word ‘pestare’. It literally means ‘to pound or crush’, which is exactly what we do when we combine the ingredients of this recipe. In fact, the original dish would have been prepared using a mortar and “pestle” (yet another word derived from the Italian word ‘pestare’☺).
If your family loves pesto as much as my family does, basil is a must-have in your herb or vegetable garden. It is easy to grow and is very prolific. There are many varieties available, but for this recipe, I am using sweet basil. No room for a garden? Basil also grows well in containers and can be placed on a porch or a windowsill. You can also find fresh basil at many local farmers’ markets or produce stands.
If you do have room to make a small garden, I have a post showing you how to make a small raised garden bed that you might be interested in.
You can find out everything you always wanted to know about basil Here.
Ingredients For Pesto
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own pesto:
- Sweet Basil leaves
- Lemon juice (for washing leaves)
- Olive oil
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Garlic cloves
- Pine nuts
What Does Pesto Taste Like?
Pesto tastes like a combination of all of the above ingredients. Since sweet basil is the star ingredient in this recipe, you will taste the strong pungent flavors of basil the most, which include notes of pepper, anise, and mint. In a good pesto recipe, all of the ingredients blend together to create their own unique taste. The strongest flavors in the pesto come from basil, garlic, and cheese. Combined together these ingredients form a creamy sauce with a taste of its own. Pesto should be a creamy blend full of the rich flavor of basil. It doesn’t taste like grass and should not taste bitter.
To get the best-flavored pesto possible I would advise growing your own organic basil without chemicals, which could cause your pesto to have an off-flavor.
If you dislike the taste of basil greatly, you might not like basil pesto. Likewise for romano cheese, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts. Of course, you always have to option to leave out or substitute an ingredient that you don’t like for one that you prefer. I talk about making substitutions farther down in the post.
I often take my homemade pesto with cream cheese and crackers when I need a “snack food” for an event I am attending. My pesto always creates interest with people who have never seen or tasted pesto before. It never fails that I am always asked for this recipe when I take it someplace, usually by someone who was a pesto first-timer.
Preparing Your Basil
Before combining the ingredients for your pesto, you will need to strip the leaves off the stems. Simply grab the base of each leaf to pull it off. It’s okay to leave the small stems attached to your leaves. You just want to make sure you have removed all the hard stems. Once you have removed all the stems, you are ready to wash your basil.
I use water with a little bit of lemon juice (I don’t measure) to wash the leaves. After washing the basil, I use a salad spinner to get it as dry as possible. If you don’t own a salad spinner, you can shake off as much water as possible and pat the leaves with paper towels or a dish towel to remove excess water.
For this recipe, you will be using four to six cups of basil. If you use a four-cup measuring cup (like I do), you will want to pack as much basil as you can into it. Once you have your basil measured out, you’re ready to begin making your pesto.
Can You Make Pesto in a Blender?
Yes, you can! I’ll be using my Vita-mix blender to make my pesto. You can also use a food processor or even a mortar and pestle if you like doing things the old-fashioned way!
Blending The Ingredients
The first ingredient you’ll be adding to your blender is one cup of olive oil. To this, add one cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, one teaspoon of salt, and three to four cloves of garlic. You’ll want to blend this until it is well-blended. With the Vita-mix, I always start on low and move up to high until well-blended.
Next, you will add your basil. If you’re using a Vita-mix blender with a tamper, you can add all your basil and pack it down as tight as you can. You can also use the tamper to pack it down as you blend. If you don’t have a tamper with your blender, you may want to add your basil leaves a little at a time so that they get blended really well. You also might need to stop blending and use a rubber spatula to push your basil leaves down into the blender.
Once your basil is completely blended in, add one cup of pine nuts and blend again until smooth. . . and there you have it . . . PESTO! So simple to make and so delicious!
How to Store Homemade Pesto
One of my favorite things about pesto is that it freezes well! Just spoon into canning jars, add the lids and rings, and store them in the freezer until you’re ready for a savory treat.
I like to store my pesto in these little 4 oz. jars because they are the perfect size for our family. However, if you need to put your pesto into larger jars for your family size, you can use half-pint or pint-sized jars.
Delicious And Nutritious
As you were blending up your delicious pesto, did you happen to notice that all the ingredients are healthy? Olive oil, pine nuts, and basil are all very nutritious, so pesto is a great snack to have on hand.
Need Some Ideas For What To Do With Pesto Sauce
Why not try some of the following?
- Spoon over cream cheese and serve with your choice of crackers
- Add to or serve as a topping for eggs
- Use as a sandwich spread
- Mix with your favorite pasta to eat cold or hot
- Spread it onto Italian bread for a zesty substitution for garlic bread
- Use as a base for an Italian-style salad dressing
- Add zest to veggies by using pesto in place of butter
- Use pesto on pizza in place of red sauce
Substitutions in Pesto
You might be wondering if you have to use the exact same ingredients that I used to make your pesto. The answer is no!
You can change the ingredients and substitute what you have or what you like.
Parmesan cheese can be used in place of the Pecorino Romano cheese. You can even leave the cheese out totally to make a dairy-free pesto.
Pine nuts are only one type of nut that can be used in this recipe. I like to use pecans for my pesto sometimes because we usually have pecans on hand. I know that some people like to use walnuts. You can also leave out the nuts completely for a nut-free pesto.
The garlic is another ingredient that can be left out totally to create a garlic-free pesto. Each change in the ingredients will give you a different flavor. So just experiment and see what you like.
Be sure to watch the pesto video on the recipe card.
I hope you enjoy this easy pesto recipe, if you make it be sure and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Basil Blender Pesto
- Jars for storage
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- 4 cups fresh basil
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic
- 1 cup pine nuts
- Step one. Add 1 cup of olive oil, 1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, 1 tsp salt and 3-4 cloves of garlic to blender. Blend well
- Step two. Add 4-6 cups of fresh basil leaves into blender, push down with tamper, or if your blender doesn't have a tamper add 1 cup at a time and blend, scraping the sides before adding more basil. Blend well
- Step three. After basil has been blended add 1 cup of pine nuts to the blender and blend until smooth.
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