Basil Pesto | Great For Quick and Tasty Meals

A bowl of pasta mixed with basil pesto.

What if we told you that you could have a stock of almost prep-free meals ready to go at all times? Well, that’s the beauty of this homemade basil pesto recipe. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also super versatile. You can:

  • Use it as a dip (or mix it into one)
  • Spread it on toast or sandwiches
  • Use it to replace your usual pizza sauce
  • And of course, make a classic basil pesto pasta

Pesto Pointers

There are only a handful of ingredients in this basil pesto recipe: fresh basil leaves, nuts (we commonly use almonds, pine nuts and walnuts), olive oil, garlic and nutritional yeast (you could also use Vegan Parmesan Cheese). In addition, you can season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Food processor filled with basil pesto ingredients - fresh basil leaves, nuts, almonds, garlics, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt and pepper

With such a simple recipe, it’s important to treat your ingredients right! Here are some simple tips:

  • The basil: should be as fresh as possible! Make sure you choose a bunch with minimal bruising and try to use it on the day you buy it. Also, when preparing basil, wash it well – no one likes a “sandy” pesto. Also, do your washing in cold water (hot water will wilt the leaves). Finally, gently pat the basil dry.
  • The nuts: pine nuts are traditional but expensive! We substituted almonds, but walnuts, cashews, pecans, and even pistachios are all great choices.
  • The garlic: start slow (1 clove) and increase to taste. You don’t want to overpower the other ingredients.
  • Nutritional yeast or vegan “parmesan”: gives us a cheesy flavor, but in a healthy and harmless way (yay!).
  • Olive oil: will add its flavor to the pesto, so choose one that tastes good on its own. You can also reduce or skip the oil if you want a healthier end result. Just substitute water or vegetable broth (you’ll still have great flavor, just a thinner texture).

How to make Basil Pesto

The traditional way to prepare pesto is to chop the basil and other ingredients by hand! However, we don’t always have the time! Just blitz your ingredients in a food processor, by giving everything a few short pulses. You want the pesto to be well mixed, but still a little chunky.

Food processor filled with basil pesto

Another tip – if you prefer to make you pesto by hand, use a very sharp knife to avoid bruising the basil when you cut it!

How to Store Basil Pesto

You can store your homemade pesto in the fridge for 1-2 days. However, be sure to leave a thin layer of oil on top of it. This will stop it from going brown.

Alternatively, you can store your basil pesto for longer in the freezer. In fact, this is the best way to make sure it’s always available. We recommend freezing it in an ice cube tray. Then, just stash the cubes in a sealed container or a re-usable plastic bag.

When you’re ready to eat, just mix a cube of pesto directly into some hot pasta! For other uses, thaw it at room temperature first. This won’t take long unless the cubes are very large.

Jar filled with basil pesto, with heart shaped spoon
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Basil Pesto | Great for Quick + Tasty Meals

A jar full of basil pesto.

Our basil pesto recipe is perfect for quick and tasty fast meals! Use this homemade pesto to make dips, dressings, spreads, and amazing pasta in minutes! 

  • Author: Rachel Steenland | The Plant Riot
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup pesto 1x

Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into the food processor, pulse until the pesto is just combined.
  2. If you plan to use the pesto within the next day or two, place your pesto into a jar and cover with a thin layer of oil on top of it. This will stop it from going brown. Alternatively, you can store your basil pesto for longer in the freezer by freezing the pesto into desired portion sizes (see notes).

Enjoy!

Notes

  • Reduce or skip the oil if you want a healthier end result. Just substitute olive oil for water or vegetable broth (you’ll still have great flavor, just a thinner texture). 
  • You can store your homemade pesto in the fridge for 1-2 days. However, be sure to leave a thin layer of oil on top of it. This will stop it from going brown. Alternatively, you can store your basil pesto for longer in the freezer. In fact, this is the best way to make sure it’s always available. We recommend freezing it in an ice cube tray. Then, just stash the cubes in a sealed container or a re-usable plastic bag. When you’re ready to eat, just mix a cube of pesto directly into some hot pasta! For other uses, thaw it at room temperature first. This won’t take long unless the cubes are very large.

Keywords: basil pesto, basil pesto recipe, homemade pesto, pesto pasta, The Plant Riot

Did you try our basil pesto recipe? Let us know what you thought with a comment and rating. Every bit of feedback helps make The Plant Riot even better!

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