Homemade basil pesto brings delightfully fresh flavours to pasta, making it a simple, versatile way to brighten up a quick lunch or dinner.
Making a plate of pasta with basil pesto has been a go-to quick lunch or dinner for years. It’s quick, simple and cheap. What’s not to love, especially since it has always made my kids happy?
While I started by using pre-made pesto from my local supermarket, I’ve started to make fresh, homemade pesto whenever I have a couple extra minutes to spare. As good as pre-made pesto is, it just can’t compare to the bright and lively flavours of fresh made pesto.
How to make fresh pesto
Traditional pesto is blend of fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and oil. I have used almonds in place of pine nuts and vegetarian hard cheese in this pesto recipe.
A food processor or a blender make it easy to create fresh pesto at home. Just add the ingredients and let the machines do the work!
Although this recipe gives you the basic ingredient ratio, it is always important to taste the final product and adjust the seasoning to get it just right. Add salt, garlic and lemon juice till everything is perfectly balanced for the best results.
What pasta shape is best for pesto
Italians take the shape of pasta very seriously. I used to think that this was pretty funny but I’ve come to learn that having the right shape of pasta for the sauce you are using makes a big difference.
Fortunately, even Italians will usually agree that pesto goes with just about any pasta shape. I came across a pack of gemelli pasta which I used for this dish. The twists give space for little pockets of pesto to take hold, which makes the pasta very pleasant to eat.
But that’s just what I had to hand. When using pesto, it’s hard to go wrong when choosing the shape.
What to eat with basil pesto pasta
This pasta dish is incredibly versatile. It stands up perfectly well on its own, which makes it ideal for a quick lunch or dinner. Serving pesto pasta with a salad, such as our Fig and Halloumi Winter Salad, makes for a satisfying meal.
But it can do so much more than that. Pesto pasta is lovely as a course in an Italian feast, such as a primo course. Start your meal with antipasti, followed by a lovely pasta.
The options for antipasti are almost unlimited, which makes it so much fun to eat as a meal. The rich course is rounded off perfectly by a plate of pasta.
- 50g / 2 ½ cups fresh basil
- 50g / 1/3 cup blanched almonds
- 50g / 1/3 cup vegetarian hard cheese plus extra for serving
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 1 clove garlic
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.
- In a food processor or blender combine the fresh basil, almonds, vegetarian hard cheese, pressed garlic clove and the juice of one lemon. Process until smooth. With the motor of the food processor still running pour in the olive oil through a chute and process for 10-20 seconds longer. Turn the food processor off and taste the pesto, add a pinch of salt if necessary.
- Drain the pasta while reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Combine the pasta and pesto, toss everything gently to combine, add a splash of reserved water to loosen the sauce. The dish should be saucy and not pasty. Keep adding the pasta water until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with additional grated vegetarian hard cheese.
The ingredient measurements are a guide and some adjustment may be required.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 233Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g