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How to Make Homemade Pesto--A Tasty Topping for Pasta Made With Pine Nuts

Updated on January 1, 2018
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green enjoys whipping up tasty dishes in her home kitchen. She's received many requests for her recipes and is happy to share these.

Photo: Rich-Tasting Pesto
Photo: Rich-Tasting Pesto | Source

Pesto is a tasty and nutritious sauce that can be used in any number of dishes. Fresh homemade pesto is unbeatable. You can make your own homemade pesto as flavorful as you like and toss your pasta with it.

Using a pine nut pesto sauce is a healthful alternative to topping your pasta with a meat sauce. Nuts offer health supportive compounds and the right kind of fats. A pesto sauce offers a tasty alternative for vegetarians who love pasta and want a satisfying and flavorful topper for it.

Pesto goes well with most types of pasta and some cooks opt for interesting looking smaller shaped pasta. They toss this pasta with pesto and serve it as a side dish, which adds an interesting menu item when entertaining.

What You'll Need to Make Authentic Pesto

Before you begin, you'll need to either visit a whole foods/organic market to pick up ingredients that you may not have on hand or you will need to stock ingredients for making your pesto. Some people order their supplies online and freeze these until they are needed.

The amounts you'll use largely depend on your preference but the videos below give good all-round recipes for pesto with amounts for each ingredient. In the first video, the pesto is made using pine nuts; in the second video, the pesto is made without.

Pine nuts are considered somewhat pricey but they really add that extra something to pesto and when compared to the cost of meat, pine nuts are an affordable alternative--especially if used in smaller amounts.

A Good Pesto Starts With Good Ingredients: Pine Nuts, Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Grated Parmesan, Freshly Ground Pepper and a Shake of Salt
A Good Pesto Starts With Good Ingredients: Pine Nuts, Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Grated Parmesan, Freshly Ground Pepper and a Shake of Salt | Source

Pesto Ingredients

  • Pine Nuts--visit a whole foods market or a bulk store to pick up pine nuts.
  • Fresh Organic Basil--pick up fresh basil at the same whole foods outlet or supermarket or, if you grow your own, pick it for making pesto.
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper

Why Make Your Own Pesto?

The great thing about making your own pesto is that you can adjust the amount of salt and Parmesan, so if you want a tastier sauce, this can easily be accomplished.

Store bought pesto may not offer as much flavor as homemade, nor come in the quantity you need.

You'll need a blender or food processor to process your homemade pesto, so that you end up with a smooth creamy sauce. These kitchen appliances are inexpensive and make a good multipurpose kitchen tool for many everyday kitchen tasks.

Photo: Fettuccini Topped With Pesto
Photo: Fettuccini Topped With Pesto | Source

Freezing Your Pesto Sauce

By far, the easiest method for making homemade pesto and having it on hand is to simply make it in a large batch and then freeze your pesto sauce for future use.

If you grow your own basil, making your own pesto is a much easier process, as you can gather the leaves when the are ready.

Another method is to buy your pine nuts in bulk and freeze these, along with your basil and Parmesan, so that these key ingredients don't spoil.

If possible, it is always better to make your pesto with fresh ingredients but realistically, busy cooks may take measures so that they have a supply of pesto ingredients on hand.

Photo: Pesto on Pasta
Photo: Pesto on Pasta | Source

Have You Tried Making Pesto?

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© 2011 Athlyn Green


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    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 6 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Danette,

      A good pesto can be extremely tasty. I, too, tried to make it some years back but it did not have the right consistency and was sticky. I learned later that I should have added water to make the sauce smooth.

      Once you get onto it, it is easy to make and is such a healthful pasta topper.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I have tried making pesto a couple years ago b/c the organic garden I'm a member of always has a lot of basil. I didn't really care for it but am thinking of trying it again. Good info here.