Anyone else have herbs going absolutely crazy by this point of summer? For me, everything is either thriving or long-gone – I most definitely did not inherit my mother’s magical green thumb. Thankfully the basil is in that first group and it’s shooting up so fast I can’t keep up.
This is the very best basil problem to have, because too much fresh basil means fresh pesto means pure food happiness. Truth.
And we’re gonna change it up a little, because classic pesto with basil + pine nuts can get crazy expensive. Let’s make more pesto for less $$!
It’s just a fact that pesto makes literally – yes, literally – everything better. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pasta coated with pesto and topped with parmesan (pretty sure I’d lose my Italian card if I don’t pay homage to the classic), keeping a jar of freshly-homemade pesto in the fridge opens the door for every dish you’ll make the rest of the summer.
Grilled chicken? Burgers? All the salads? Fried egg over avocado toast? (← YAS.) A generous scoop or slather of pesto brings fresh, herby summer goodness to everything you’re eating.
Here’s the secret… we can cut the cost of fresh pesto in half without giving up the flavor. Subbing parsley for some of the basil and walnuts for some (or all!) of the pine nuts is a major money saver. The flavor is a little different, but no less delicious.
At most, replace one-third of the basil with parsley – any more and it drastically takes over the flavor. Walnuts aren’t as big of a flavor difference. You can completely replace the pine nuts with walnuts, or use half-and-half for a more traditional flavor.
- 3 cups fresh basil [see notes]
- ½ cup pine nuts [see notes]
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. pepper
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ cup fresh parmesan, grated
- Pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped.
- Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture, pulsing until smooth.
- Add parmesan and puree for 30 seconds.
- Store in an airtight container immediately and keep in the fridge.
Air will turn the pesto brown; for best storage, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface before sealing. This keeps the bright color but isn't strictly necessary.