This easy basil pesto recipe is even more flavorful (& economical) with the addition of walnuts instead of pine nuts and creamy, tangy goat cheese. The perfect sauce, spread, or dip for any of your favorite foods.
Our garden didn’t fare well this year. It was our first-year garden in this location, which is challenging in itself. But the main issue was that in our attempt to save money, we didn’t bring in enough quality soil. We used a lot of mulch and it just wasn’t enough nourishment for the plants.
But one thing that did okay was our basil. I was able to harvest a decent amount this week, around 4 cups. So I knew it was time to make pesto!
Basil health benefits
Not only is basil flavorful & aromatic, it has so many benefits for the body. It has a decent amount of vitamin K, and is also filled with antioxidants. It’s anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties are significant.
It also helps to aid digestion, so it’s the perfect herb to add to any meal.
What makes a good pesto? Best Pesto Ingredients
The following are the most common ingredients for an easy pesto recipe:
- Fresh basil leaves (of course)
- Quality extra virgin olive oil
- Pine nuts – this is the classic nut option for pesto, but you can use walnuts instead
- Cheese – parmesan is the typical choice, but goat cheese is also a great option
Today, I’m making a basil pesto recipe without pine nuts and using walnuts instead to make it affordable. In the store where I buy nuts in bulk, pine nuts are $21 a pound! And walnuts are only $4 a pound! It’s a no brainer.
What type of cheese should I use in pesto?
I love the tangy flavor of goat cheese in this pesto recipe. The traditional Italian version of pesto features parmesan, which I’m adding also.
You can use any variety of feta, parmesan, romano, or any strong flavored cheese.
How do you make pesto from scratch?
Making this authentic pesto recipe from scratch is SO simple, it only takes 5-10 minutes to blend everything together!
It’s also a lot cheaper than store bought basil pesto, which is usually around $6 for a small jar.
All you need is a good quality food processor or high speed blender to make pesto at home. I don’t have a food processor yet, but I have my eye on this one.
Apparently, it’s easier to pulse the dry ingredients together evenly and then stream in the olive oil at the end to help emulsify everything more thoroughly.
But if all you have is a high speed blender, that’s okay too! Just blend everything together until it’s the texture you want.
More healthy sauces to try:
How to Make Homemade Basil Pesto
First off, start with good quality sweet basil leaves. If you’re lucky enough to have some in your garden, or can obtain some from a friend or the farmer’s market, this is the best option.
You will need quite a bit of basil – 2 cups packed. Make sure the basil is thoroughly washed and pat dry before proceeding.
There are 2 ways to make pesto depending on the equipment you’re using – food processsor or high speed blender.
How to Make Pesto in a Food Processor —
Add to a food processor or blender along with the walnuts.
If using a food processor, simply pulse the basil and nuts several times, then add the cheese, seasonings, and garlic and pulse several more times. Scrape down the sides several times as you go.
Finally, stream in the olive oil slowly while the food processor is running to help emulsify everything together.
How to Make Pesto in a High Speed Blender —
If you don’t have a food processor (like me) you can still make pesto in a high speed blender. You just don’t have the option to stream in the oil at the end, because a blender needs some sort of liquid to blend things together.
So I just added the oil, basil leaves, and walnuts to the blender and pulsed until it started to liquefy.
Then I added the cheeses, garlic, and seasonings and pulsed again until I reached the consistency I wanted. It still emulsified great, in my opinion!
Storing & Freezing Basil Pesto
To store, simply put pesto in small jars and refrigerate or freeze. Pesto lasts around 10 days in the fridge, and can be frozen for up to 6 months. Simply that and use in any of your favorite recipes or as a spread or dip.
This easy pesto recipe is even more flavorful (& economical) with the addition of walnuts instead of pine nuts and creamy, tangy goat cheese. The perfect sauce, spread, or dip for any of your favorite foods.
- 2 cups fresh basil, packed
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- In a food processor or high speed blender, add basil leaves, walnuts, and olive oil. Pulse until walnuts are broken into small pieces.
- Add cheeses, garlic, and spices and continue to pulse until pesto is somewhat smooth but still has a bit of texture. Scrape down the sides of the food processor or blender periodically.
- Use as a dip, pasta sauce, or spread on any of your favorite foods.
- Store in the fridge for up to 10 days, or in the freezer up to 6 months.
* If using a food processor, you may just pulse the dry ingredients together without the oil and stream in the oil at the end, which helps to emulsify more thoroughly.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 49Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 41mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g
Easy Ways to Use Basil Pesto in Recipes
There are so many delicious ways to use pesto, such as:
- Add to pizza sauce on homemade pizza, even make pesto pizza
- Use as a sauce for your favorite pasta
- Spread on your favorite sandwich
- Use as a chip dip
- Add to dressings and marinades
- Spread on top of plain chicken and bake
- Spread on garlic bread & bake
- Add to plain yogurt to make a special savory dipping sauce
- Use as a topping for any type of fish
Related Post: 55 Finger-Lickin’ Homemade Condiments & Sauces
You definitely need to try this amazing basil pesto! How will you use it?