Formula Meals: Homemade Pesto
I’ve created formulas for roasted vegetables, stir fries, power salads, chili, and more – and next on my list is a tried-and-true favorite: homemade pesto.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of fresh herbs. I’ll take any excuse to pop outside and snip off some fresh basil! Today I’m sharing a super simple formula for making homemade pesto with your favorite ingredients – or whatever you have in the fridge or garden! This recipe yields 1 cup.
Homemade Pesto Formula:
6 cups fresh herbs or leafy greens, loosely packed. When making a traditional pesto, most people turn to basil. That being said, there’s no reason not to experiment with other herbs and leafy greens like parsley, kale, or spinach!
1/2 cup toasted nuts or seeds. Have a stash of nuts or seeds that’s taking up room in your pantry (or freezer)? This is a great opportunity to use them up. Pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc. These all have a distinct, unique flavor, and you really can’t go wrong here!
1/2 cup grated cheese. Most pesto is made with grated Parmesan cheese, but if you’re looking to make your pesto 100% plant-based, you can swap this out for some cashew “Parm.” Simply toss together 1/2 cup ground cashews + a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast + a heavy pinch of salt.
1/2 cup oil. I always use extra virgin olive oil when making pesto, but feel free to change it up and use whatever you have on hand! I bet avocado oil would work nicely. I wouldn’t use coconut oil. I don’t think the coconut flavor would work well in pesto. However, refined coconut oil doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor, so you could try that if you want to.
1 citrus fruit, juiced. I love adding lemon juice to my pesto. The flavor just pops! That being said, you could go with nearly any citrus fruit and your pesto would taste great. I’m thinking a cilantro-lime pesto would be absolutely delicious!
Garlic & other flavor boosters. When making a traditional pesto, it would be a tragedy to leave out fresh garlic. But if you’re making a more unique pesto, I bet you take your pesto to the next level by adding something like freshly grated ginger or finely chopped jalapeno peppers. Each pesto recipe is unique so feel free to get creative with fun flavor boosters!
Seasonings. Like flavor boosters, seasoning is going to depend on the other ingredients in your pesto. No matter what version of pesto you’re making, you can safely add 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Other fun seasonings include: fresh cracked pepper, a pinch of paprika, dehydrated chives, Italian seasoning blend, etc.
How To Prepare Your Pesto:
- Blend half of your herbs/greens with the nuts, cheese, flavor boosters, and seasonings. Process or blend until all of the ingredients are finely chopped.
- Add in the remaining herbs/greens. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl! Process or blend until ingredients are well incorporated and a uniform paste has formed.
- Stream in the oil. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the oil. Again, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend until the oil is emulsified into the herbs/greens and the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Taste and adjust. You’re almost there! Before you wrap it up and call it a day, taste your pesto and adjust as needed.
- Using your pesto. When most people think pesto, they think pasta. While that is absolutely delicious, don’t limit yourself! Mix it into dips, add it to your next homemade pizza, add to scrambled eggs, spread on a sandwich, or toss with veggies.
- Storing your pesto. Store your pesto in your refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Your pesto might be quick to darken or brown, but don’t worry, it’s still perfectly fine to eat! Now if need to consider appearance, you’ll want to serve it right away. Need long-term storage? You’re in luck! Simply spoon the pesto into an ice tray and pop it in the freezer for future use! Once the cubes are frozen, pop them into a labeled freezer bag and store for up to a few months.
Looking For Some Pesto Inspiration?
Below are a few delicious pesto recipes. Use them for inspiration when you’re creating your own pesto!
Summer Tomato, Pesto & Grilled Corn Pasta
- 8 oz. pasta, GF if needed
- 1/2 cup pesto, plus more if needed
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 ears corn, grilled and removed from cob
- 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, if needed
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely packed, sliced into ribbons
- sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
- Cook pasta according to package.
- Once pasta is cool, toss pasta with extra virgin olive oil and mix until thoroughly coated. This helps keep the pasta from drying out!
- Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Taste and adjust. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days!