Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kyle’s Cookbook: Fresh Homemade Pesto

I love pesto and eat it regularly. Instant pesto is easy and convenient to make, however the cost of buying the instant packets can add up. Usually in the summer I make an effort to make my own fresh pesto to freeze for the remainder of the year.

A few weeks ago Emi and I visited my grandparents and during our visit they gave us a whole bag of fresh basil. With fresh, organic basil running about $3-5 for a small package this was a great deal for the price of free!

Emi and I love basil and have even grown a little of our own in our backyard, but we go through it so quickly that we never have enough to make pesto. We add basil to everything from fresh mozzarella, to pizza, and pastas. It’s really easy to grow and adds great flavor to anything you cook it with.

Nothing is better than fresh pesto especially when compared to the freeze dried, instant stuff and this is actually more economical as well.

Fresh basil before adding in the pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan

The finished product

What you will need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed, and packed

½ C freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or Romano cheese

½ C extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C pine nuts (you can buy them in bulk at Top Foods or in small packages at most grocery stores)

3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Combine the basil with the pine nuts in the food processor, pulse a few times. Add the garlic and pulse a few times more.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

This should make about 1 cup of pesto. I found this recipe on It was really easy to make, but a little messy. The website recommends that you do not add the cheese to the pesto if you plan on freezing it because the cheese does not freeze well. Instead add the Parmesan cheese once you've thawed out the pesto. The best way to store the pesto is by freezing it in an ice cube tray and then popping them out into a freezer Ziplock bag for storage.

Now what to do with the pesto? I posted two recipes in the comments section for anyone interested in trying out two of my favorites: Pesto Chicken Linguine and Pesto Oven Fried Chicken.



  1. One of the easiest things I know how to make that never disappoints is Pesto Chicken Linguine. Cook about 3/4ths of a box of linguine following the box directions. Then cut up 1-2 chicken breasts into 1 inch chunks. Brown the chicken in a pan, about 4 minutes each side. When the chicken is done cooking, just add the pesto to heat it up and some Parmesan cheese. Drain the pasta when done, pour the pesto and chicken sauce into the pot, mix and serve. This should take less than 30 minutes to make.

    Another easy, yet more ambitious recipe that I like to make every so often is Pesto Oven Fried Chicken.

    What you’ll need:
    Package of instant pesto or a serving or two of the fresh pesto
    Couple pounds of chicken pieces (I prefer drumsticks and thighs, I’ve never made it with skinless, boneless chicken so not sure if that would turn out very well)
    1 C of Italian style bread crumbs

    Heat the oven to 400 F or if your oven is weak like our oven, turn it up to 425. You need the oven to be pretty hot or the crust you are making won’t get crispy and might be a little soggy.

    Line a rimmed baking sheet or pan with foil.
    In a separate bowl dip the chicken into the pesto like it’s batter and then dip it into the Italian bread crumbs. The key is to double dip, so repeat and dip into the pesto and the bread crumbs again building a nice crust to cover the chicken.

    Place the chicken pieces into the pan and bake for 40-50 minutes. Check the internal temperature around 40 minutes and if its 165 F then it’s done, otherwise leave in until it hits that temperature. The coating of the chicken should be golden.

    I like to serve this dish with either some pesto linguine, corn, zucchini, and/or small red potatoes, basically anything goes well with it.

  2. I love making homemade pesto! With the food processor its so easy. I stock up on basil plants from Trader Joes and make it all summer long.

  3. YUMMY!!! I am getting fat reading your blog!