Homemade basil pesto has a much better flavour than store bought basil. But fresh pesto doesn't last long once made. To make the most of the summer crop of fresh basil leaves, we use this recipe to make bulk pesto and freeze it for use through the year.
The Best Basil for Pesto
You can get many different varieties of basil but the one that is best for classic basil pesto is Basil Genovese with large succulent leaves and a medium spicy flavour.
Smaller leafed basil varieties can be too pungent for making pesto, with flavours that overpower the other ingredients.
5 Tips for Growing Basil
- Basil loves heat and grows best when planted out in the early summer, once the soil has warmed up.
- Protect young basil plants from slugs
- Keep basil well watered for lush leaves
- Basil can be grown in pots
- If it starts to set flowers, pinch them out to encourage growth, and bushy plants
Alternatives to Pine Nuts for Homemade Pesto
Pine nuts are super expensive and although they add a beautiful flavour to pesto, they can be substituted for other cheaper nuts.
Our recipe uses toasted pumpkin seeds. We have also used hazelnuts, cashews and walnuts with good results.
5 Great Uses for Basil Pesto
- Toss basil pesto through freshly cooked pasta for a simple sauce
- Use as a pizza topping, or mix with the tomato to spread on the base
- Spread basil pesto on slices of focaccia bread and grill for crostini
- Swirl a spoon of pesto through tomato soup before serving
- Mix a spoon of pesto into savoury muffin dough for pesto muffins.
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