The Best Pesto You’ll Ever Taste (and Nut-Free, too!)

I love pesto. It’s one of the most versatile spreads to ever exist. You can layer it on sandwiches, mix it with pasta, cook it with chicken or seafood, or layer it on toasted (or, untoasted bread) and eat it plain. The possibilities that one has with pesto are endless. Pesto has no limits.

I always look forward to coming home because I 1.) get to see my family and 2.) finally have access to a food processor. Because I came home for the long weekend, I thought that this weekend would be the perfect time to make some pesto.

Pesto, like bruschetta, is very easy to make and even easier to personalize. You can easily adapt everything I’m about to tell you to suit your preferences and tastes. You can add more garlic and use less cheese or use less olive oil and add more basil. It’s totally up to you and it’ll still taste just as good. This is my favorite thing about Italian food.

First, I always want to start with a TON of basil. It’s always best to get way more than you think you’ll need because it virtually disappears once you start to chop and mix it all together in the food processor.

My grocery store at home in North Carolina, Harris Teeter, sells fresh basil in these neat little bags. The basil plant is still physically attached to a block of dirt when you buy it. I don’t know if this actually helps the plant stay fresher longer, but it feels like the closest thing that I can get to fresh without growing it in my backyard.

From there, I detached all of the basil leaves from the stems and rinsed the leaves off in a colander. I then lay all of the basil leaves on a few paper towels and patted them dry. The leaves don’t need to be bone dry, but I tried to remove any excess moisture before putting them into the food processor. As I mentioned before, I believe that exact measurements are unnecessary for something like this. But, as a general idea, I added about three cups of tightly-compacted basil to the food processor. From there, I just added three cloves of raw garlic to the food processor and prepared to start chopping!

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I pulsed the basil and the garlic together a few times before adding the olive oil. I utilized the pulse feature as I slowly drizzled the olive oil into the basil-garlic mixture. I think this helps blend the basil, garlic, and olive oil all together and helps me avoid adding too much olive oil.

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Once I felt that the olive oil had added a nice consistency to the mixture, I removed the mixture from the food processor and put it in an airtight container. Don’t worry! It starts to look more like the pesto we all know and love once the parmesan cheese is added, which I’ll get to in a bit!

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I put the basil mixture into the fridge to chill and then got ready to make some garlic crostini for the pesto, because it’s impossible to go wrong there.

I sliced two medium-sized baguettes into vertical slices and lightly spread some salted butter on each side. I lined the slices of bread up on a cookie sheet and sprinkled them with parsley and just a pinch of garlic salt before broiling them in the oven.

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Because I was broiling the crostini, I only cooked the first side for about 1.5 minutes before flipping the slices. I broiled the second side for about 1 minute before removing it from the oven.

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Once the crostini was done, I removed the basil mixture from the fridge and mixed in about 1/2 of parmesan cheese. I would definitely recommend waiting to add the cheese until you want to eat the pesto. I don’t think it stays as well and fresh after the cheese is added.

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The basil mixture finally becomes true pesto with the addition of cheese.

I didn’t even think to get a picture of the pesto on top of the crostini – I was too excited to eat it! And, I think my family was, too!

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7 thoughts on “The Best Pesto You’ll Ever Taste (and Nut-Free, too!)

  1. Zack Bachmann says:

    Absolutely delicious! Another mouthwatering blog post. The title caught my eye because I am allergic to many nuts, and often times have to pass on pesto when I’m out (sad). Thanks for sharing! I’d love to see a post about something eggplant-based (can’t get enough of that) but all in all, keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lauren Shiplett says:

    This post was great! Where do you live in NC? I’m from Chapel Hill!

    I love pesto, and honestly had no idea how it was made until this post. I love how you had pictures that followed each step so we knew exactly what was going on and how it was made. I also hate nuts in my pesto, so I was glad this recipe was nut-free. The first time I ever had, and fell in love with, pesto, it was homemade, so I will definitely have to keep this recipe for the future. Now I’m hungry for pasta…. great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • emilyborrello says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback!! I’m from Charlotte! My best friend from high school goes to Duke in Durham!


  3. elizabethlepore says:

    Hi! I can’t believe I just found this. I too love pesto. I have never made my own (embarrassed to say) but when I was abroad, my roommates and I would eat either pesto with mozzarella and tomato on bread or pasta with pesto most nights because it was easy to cook. I was abroad in Barcelona, so we didn’t have too many pesto options other than the jarred version at the grocery store down the street from us. I can’t wait to try this out. My only question is- I don’t have a food processor at school. Is there anything else you could use for this? Maybe a blender? Otherwise, I may just need to buy one.


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