Quick, easy, and tasty pesto sauce using fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan. Drizzle it over any type of pasta!
Pesto sauce is a staple in most kitchens because it’s not only delicious and healthy, but also easy to make. And super-quick! Once the ingredients are assembled, your pesto will be ready in 10 minutes (using a food processor).
Where does pesto come from?
As you might be able to guess from its full name, pesto alla genovese, pesto originates in Italy. Specifically, the Genoa region, located in the north-west of the country.
Italians use pesto in a wide variety of ways, so we could take some hints from them:
- Pesto is excellent as a stir-through sauce for pasta. It makes a fabulously quick and tasty week-night meal.
- As a spread on toast – and a delicious base for bruschetta. (Try our yummy homemade prosciutto bruschetta recipe!)
- A marinade for a variety of meat, tofu, fish, and chicken dishes.
- Mix with sour cream and use as a dip.
- Stir a spoonful through mashed potato to add a “wow!” factor to regular mash.
- Pesto is a great drizzle sauce on chicken/ chicken schnitzel, or steak.
- Use instead of butter/ margarine on a sandwich. Try it with: cheese/ cheese & tomato, salad, chicken, egg, ham/ ham & cheese, or other luncheon meat.
- blender/ food processor/ stick blender
- mortar & pestle (optional)
- 3 cups basil leaves (fresh is absolutely best)
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup sun-dried or semi-dried tomatoes (drained and roughly chopped)
- ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (finely grated)
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup olive oil (good quality, if available, please)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Use a food processor or hand-held blender to combine sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic.
- Add cheese, pine nuts and half the olive oil.
- Continue blending, gradually adding the salt & pepper, and the last half of the olive oil.
- Ensure the ingredients are well combined.
- When there are no lumps left, scrape pesto into a jar or air tight container.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready for use. (Will last 3 days.)
- Allow yourself considerably more preparation time. It will take you around 20 minutes to completely grind down the basil & garlic.
- Very finely grate the hard cheese, and stir it through the basil, garlic, and oil mixture at the end. Do not try to break the cheese down using the mortar & pestle!
- Cut the sun-dried/ semi-dried tomatoes up very finely and add them in at the end, too.
Pesto Sauce Options
By now I’m sure you know that I love to suggest ways you can personalize my recipes. Pesto is super-versatile so you’ll have your own ideas, but here are some options:
- My recipe (above) includes sun-dried tomatoes (you could use semi-dried). If you don’t like or don’t have them, simply leave them out!
- Alternatively, replace the sun-dried tomatoes with roasted red peppers (capsicum).
- Replace the basil with any of the following green, leafy options: cilantro (coriander), watercress, parsley, dill, or kale.
- Instead of pine nuts, try walnuts, pistachios, cashews, or almonds.
- Stir through 1/2 cup sour cream, Greek/ natural yoghurt, or cream cheese to make a fabulously creamy, tasty dip!
I would really love to hear about your pesto sauce making journey. Please leave me a comment (below) to let me know how you went.
Until next time…
Love & Italian cooking, Bx