Makes approximately 4 tubs of 30g
Gluten free/ Vegan & Dairy free options
It’s no secret that pesto is a seriously popular choice of sauce amongst the masses, more often than not as a quick and easy accompaniment to pasta. What is less known though, is just how versatile it is, both in the flavours you can put in it, as well as the many other dishes it goes perfectly with.
There are so many different types of pesto that you can make, either to make it seasonal (it’s hard to miss when it’s “wild garlic” pesto season these days!), or to use up leftover soft herbs. I’ve added the basic recipe below, and then listed a few optional flavours, but I recommend you just use this as a guide and play around with it however you like.
Pesto also freezes beautifully, and it is such a useful thing to have at hand in your freezer. Find my freezing tips at the bottom of this recipe!
Finally, when you are ready to tuck into your scrummy, home-made pesto, whether that’s fresh from the freezer or from the blender, why not try mixing it through some roasted veggies after cooking, using it as a chicken marinade or herby salad dressing, or, if you are feeling fancy, making a burrata and heritage seasonal tomato salad with pesto dressing, for any BBQ side dish or summer entertaining. And of course, you may also use it to brighten up any pasta dish.
Basic pesto recipe:
2 bunches (about 60g) of basil, roughly chopped
30ml vegetable oil
20ml olive oil
3 tbsp of toasted pine nuts, cashew nuts or blanched almonds (most nuts will work here, and nb that toasting the nuts is really important to get the best flavour out of them)
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated (or 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast and ½ tsp dijon mustard to make it vegan)
1 tsp garlic, crushed or finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Red pepper pesto: Add 2 roasted red bell peppers, skin and seeds removed, roughly chopped
Sundried tomato pesto: Add 5 x sundried tomatoes
Spring herb pesto: Add ½ bunch (15g) of mint and ½ bunch (15g) of parsley, roughly chopped
Harissa Pesto: Add 1 tbsp of harissa paste
Spring greens pesto: Add a handful of fresh baby spinach and 20g of cooked green beans, roughly chopped
Extra flavours: chilli flakes or chopped, fresh chilli; dill; hazelnuts (these taste great with the red peppers)
- Add all the basic pesto ingredients, minus the salt, into a food processor – or alternatively use a hand blender, or pestle and mortar – and pulse or mash until you have the desired consistency.
- If you want to flavour your pesto with any of the above options, add them along with your other pesto ingredients in stage one.
- Season to taste with salt, and add more lemon juice if needed.
Freezing tips: Portion out into either large ice cube trays, freezer bags or individual small containers. Put a lid over the top or wrap in cling film. Label ‘Pesto’ and a 6 month best before date.
Using the ice trays is a great way to use small portions from the freezer at one time without having to defrost the whole batch.
To reheat straight from frozen: Put directly into hot pasta to melt then heat through in the same pan as the pasta until hot.
If you are using it as a dressing or marinade, put the freezer bag or container into a bowl of hot water and leave for a few minutes until the contents are defrosted. Alternatively, you can defrost the room temperature for about 1–2 hours before serving.