How to Make Pesto Sauce: Recipe & Tips
Mixing together some of the all-time favorites of the cooking world, pesto is packed with nuts, garlic, herbs and oil to give it a unique but luxurious taste. With it’s fresh feel and ability to add everything you need to almost any dish, thanks to its overall versatility and simple flavorings, it’s no wonder that pesto sauce is one of the most popular on the market.
Naturally, however, fresh pesto sauce will always taste better than the store-bought variety, yet many shy away from this culinary creation. Most people think that making fresh pesto will be too difficult or isn’t work the extra effort. We’re here to tell you that making pesto is easier than ever before – especially if you have a blender. Keep reading to discover the best simple pesto sauce recipe, as well as answers to those important frequently asked questions.
Let’s begin with the basics. These are the classic ingredients you’ll need to make a great-tasting but easy pesto sauce:
- 50g pine nuts
- large bunch of basil
- 50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
- 150ml olive oil (with a little extra for storing your sauce, later)
- 2 garlic cloves
This recipe is quick and easy – and should take no more than 10 minutes in total:
- Start by heating a small frying pan over a low heat
- Use a little oil in the pan
- Place your pine nuts in the pan
- Fry your pine nuts until they become a little golden
- Once they are golden brown, place your pine nuts in the food processor
- Blend all of the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth
- Season with a little salt to taste
- Pour the pesto into an airtight jar
- Use a little extra oil on top to improve the freshness and increase the longevity
Pesto Sauce FAQ:
How Long Does Homemade Pesto Last?
Refrigerated pesto can last up to three weeks, depending on how well it is stored. It is always recommended to add a little extra oil to your sauce after it has been made, to provide a barrier and improve the overall lifespan of the pesto sauce.
How to Tell if Pesto has Gone Bad
Pesto should always have a vivid green appearance. The basil leaves give the pesto it’s green appearance and can turn brown when the basil leaves have turned bad or have oxidized over time. You should never eat brown pesto as this will likely be home to nasty bacteria by the time the oxidization has occurred, and the leaves have turned brown.
Another sure sign that the pesto has gone bad is the smell. If your pesto doesn’t smell great, it’s worth throwing it away and making a fresh batch. The final sign is the more obvious mold, like any other food stuff.
Why is My Pesto Bitter?
Surprisingly, a bitter pesto is not a sign that the sauce has gone out of date – but actually a sign of sub-par ingredients. If you’ve found that your pesto is tasting a little bitter, check out the following tips to improve your overall flavor:
- Always aim to get the freshest ingredients from your local market
- Taste test everything before using it in your pesto sauce
- Consider your pairing. If you’re going to be using your pesto with salty dishes, the result can frequently be too bitter for most.
You can also hand-grind your ingredients for a fresher taste – after all, pesto comes from the Italian pestare, meaning “to pound”. Doing this reduces the risk of your olive oil becoming bitter during mechanical blending. If using a processor is too tempting, try to blend all of your ingredients except the olive oil, which you can mix in by hand.
How to Store Pesto
Given the overall short life span of pesto, it’s handy to know the best ways to store your pesto sauce. Most homemade pesto only lasts up to four days for most cooks, as many aren’t able to store it in the same way or use the same preservatives as larger companies.
If you prefer to make larger batches, you can always choose to freeze your pesto sauce. When stored in an airtight container, pesto can be frozen for up to six months. For best results, leave the parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative) out of the sauce until it has thawed, wherein you can add it in later.
Related Post: Best Food Storage Containers
Pesto Tips and Tricks
What Does Pesto Go With?
Once of the best things about pesto is that it has an incredible level of versatility, in that it can be used with almost anything. Some of our particular favorites, when it comes to using pesto include:
- As a pasta sauce (with both pasta and rice)
- On a pizza (sprinkle a little over a margherita pizza)
- In a dip (add some soft cheese for a great breadstick dip)
- With mashed potatoes
- As a marinade
- With steak
- With chicken
- In an omelet
- With breadcrumbs (cover your food in pesto breadcrumbs before frying for a yummy treat)
And many more! Indeed, we always recommend having a little fun with your techniques and trying out some new recipes when both making your pesto and mixing your pasta sauce with other foodstuffs.
Related Post: Best Pasta Pots
Mix It Up A Little
If you’re a little bored of the same old pesto recipe, we can wholeheartedly recommend mixing things up a little by changing a few of the ingredients. We love it when our readers have a little fun in the kitchen and these tips are just a few changes you can make to improve upon or alter your recipes a little.
- Use different herbs
While many hardcore cooks may consider this sacrilege, there’s nothing wrong with trying a few other greens. Parsley, bay leaves and thyme are great alternatives to your traditional basil and can better suit your meal, too.
- Use different nuts
You don’t have to stick with pine nuts, either. You can try anything from cashews to pumpkin seeds – depending on your preference.
Keep playing and having fun with your food and we’re sure you’ll perfect your pesto sauce in no time!