Homemade Pesto

I’m not often surprised, but when people look at me in shock and say, “You make your own pesto?! You can your own jams?!” I tend to be surprised that more people don’t.

Homemade pesto is so freakishly simple that a 5 year old could make it with little supervision. Mine weren’t too much older when they started helping in the canning process.

I have multiple recipes, which all come so remarkably close to one another, sharing each one would prove silly. Every person likes a little more of this, a twist on that… find a basic recipe that works, and tweek it to your likings.

But then I came across this recipe from bon appétit on my personal Facebook feed – ’cause I follow tons of food sites on Facebook. I like them better than most people lately.

One note: If you find a recipe for pesto that allows for heat canning in the same fashion jams and jellies get canned, please share it with me. I can my pesto in 4 oz jars and freeze it. Works like a charm, but takes up freezer space. You can use an ice cube tray to freeze cubes, and this work great, as well. Just drop the cubes in a freezer safe baggie for storage.

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I liked the notion of adding the pesto at the very end so it maintained it vibrancy of color and flavor.

OK. So I set off to try their version. Ingredient list? Check. Basil bushes in the garden? Check. Insanely good olive oil from Italy? Check. Parmesan from Italy? Check. Garlic from local farm stand? Check. Pine nuts from store? Check.

I know, such a let down that I don’t figure out how to harvest my own pine nuts or even get them from the source. Truth is, I haven’t a clue where they come from. OK, you should know me by now…I looked it up. Pine nuts come from Europe. I shall have to be on the hunt for them next trip.

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A few notes on ingredients, and this shouldn’t surprise you in the slightest…GET THE BEST YOU CAN! I’ve made homemade pesto with grocery store bought olive oil and wondered what in hell was wrong with it, and then I used really good olive oil the next year.

What was wrong with my first batch was that I used crappy olive oil.

Then we took one of our first trips to Italy, and I got this olive oil from RicasoliWORLDS of difference in taste!

I don’t care, just get good olive oil when you make pesto.

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Alright. Toasted me nuts:

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Secret here:  If you have a hunk of parmesan that isn’t grated, throw it in the food processor and let the blade grate it. Save yourself the hassle of hand grating. Cause you might get a fingernail grated in with the cheese, otherwise.

The directions now say to blend the parm and the pine nuts for about a minute. I suggest you do not do this. I set a timer and followed the rules, and this is what happened…only after I broke up the major ball that existed into pieces:

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This didn’t look like something akin to pesto. It kinda freaked me out. But it tasted good. So I moved forward with adding the basil and olive oil, as noted:

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I will admit here that I added the basil first and had to pulse it a few times because I doubled the batch, but my end result was more moss green than the bright vibrant green I was hoping for in the picture from bon appétit’s post.

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No matter, still tasted delicious, so in a jar it went.

I tried another round with some purple basil I had grown. This time, I only pulsed the pine nuts and parm cheese a few times until it started to look thick:

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Then I drizzled in the olive oil BEFORE I added any basil, and I got a mixture that looked like this:

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Only then did I add the basil and only pulsed it. Since I used purple basil, the end result looked more like black olive tapenade than pesto, but it tasted equally as delicious. The picture doesn’t actually show the purple hue of the pesto, but it looked more like an eggplant color.

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Tasty and delicious, and in a jar it went!

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And then in the freezer:

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Run the frozen jar under warm water, and the frozen pesto will pop right out when you’re ready to use it in the dead of winter. Thaw the pesto over a low heat, toss in some pasta and cherry tomatoes, and it’s like you might be back in summer… only the temperature outside is a frozen Hell.

Now you, too, can wow your friends.

I also found this recipe by Lucinda Hutson on Gardener’s Supply Company’s website:

Purple Pesto

“I like to stuff this pesto under the skin of chicken breasts and melt it over grilled fish or chicken. It tastes fabulous tossed with fettuccine with more sun-dried tomatoes or used in a cheese torta garnished with additional purple basil sprigs.”

  • 2 cups fresh Dark Opal or Purple Ruffles basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chiles

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process basil, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and parmesan. Slowly add the oil; add the rosemary and chiles. Blend to desired consistency. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


You’ll find a variety of pesto recipes on there, with twists on the original. Find what makes you smile.

Happy pestoing 🙂

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