Almond basil pesto is the perfect, quick sauce for weeknight dinners. Loads of basil, garlic, lemon, and parmesan cheese. Use almonds instead of pine nuts for a cost-effective alternative.
Gardening season is my favorite time of year and one thing I always look forward to is fresh, straight from the garden basil! When grown properly you can have an abundance of basil all summer long.
This fresh pesto sauce is a summer staple and an easy recipe to prepare. Spread it over a baked pesto salmon, or chicken breasts, and use it as a quick pasta sauce, or as a delicious spread.
The best part is you can make enough and it can easily be frozen to use during the winter months.
Fresh basil pesto takes less time than you would think and tastes far better than any grocery store pesto you can buy.
This is my favorite way to use fresh basil and with just a handful of simple ingredients, you can have a pesto sauce that you will make over and over again.
📝Tips to Make it Better
Here are some tips to make this basil pesto recipe even better!
- Use fresh ingredients: Don't settle for bottled lemon juice or prepackaged garlic. Use a fresh lemon and fresh garlic cloves.
- High Quality Oil: When making pesto go with quality olive oil for the best flavor in your homemade pesto.
- Use the freshest basil you can find: Basil plants at local nurseries, feed stores, or farmer's market can sometimes be cheaper than at your grocery store. Consider checking out these locations first to get a good deal on basil. If you care for the plant you'll have an endless supply of fresh basil all summer!
- Toast the almonds: Take the extra couple of minutes to toast to almonds before making. Toasting brings out even more flavor.
Basil Leaves: Use 2 full cups of fresh basil leaves. The fresher the better.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: The quality of oil will really make the difference with this sauce.
Raw Almonds: Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts. However, they can be very expensive and hard to find. Almonds are a great alternative to making pesto and offer a great taste at a more affordable price.
Parmesan Cheese: Use freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bagged cheese typically has a protective coating that will lead to a different texture in the sauce. I like to use a Micoplane zester to get a super fine cheese. Goat cheese can also be used in its place.
See full information on ingredients and quantities in the recipe card.
🔪How to Make
💡Pro tip: While not necessary, it is always recommended that you toast almonds any time they are used for sauces, baking or cooking. This extra step brings out the nutty flavor and really enhances whatever you add them to.
Step 1: In a small pan over medium heat, toss the almonds until they start to turn dark brown and release a nutty smell. This only takes a couple of minutes.
Step 2: In a food processor or high-power blender, add in the basil. (Image 2).
Step 3: Then add in all the other ingredients. Almonds, parmesan, lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. The weight of the almonds will help push everything towards the blades. (Image 3).
Step 4: Run the food processor for 60-90 seconds.
Step 5: After the initial run, take a spatula and scrap down the sides and bottom to mix everything up. This will help any pieces that didn't get blended. (Image 4).
Step 6: Repeat steps 4-5 until the sauce is pureed to your desired consistency. (Image 5).
💡Pro Tip: If your sauce is a bit thicker than you would like add a little bit of cold water at a time until you reach the perfect consistency.
Use it right away as a pasta sauce or save it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
They can also be frozen in ice cube trays to be used later.
🍝How to Cook with Pesto
- Never heat pesto: Basil does not hold up well to high cooking temperatures so try to avoid overcooking your pesto. Heating up will be fine, just try to avoid cooking at high temps for longer periods of time.
- Add directly to any pasta dish: Cook just until al dente and then fold the pesto into the warm pasta. It will be enough heat to incorporate the pesto but not cook it.
- Add in the final step of a dish: Wait until the end of a dish to add in pesto. Again, it should not be cooked at high heat so adding at the end will ensure you are getting the most flavor.
- Add cream: If you are looking for a creamier pesto add in a little cream when you add the pesto to a dish. This will thin it out and add a creamier texture.
🍽Ways to Serve
Pesto is best served fresh, garnished on top of a dish, or folded into cooked pasta. here are some other things you can serve with your fresh almond basil pesto:
- Baked Pesto Salmon
- Sourdough Focaccia
- Overnight Sourdough Bread
- Fold in to a crab risotto
- Tuna Melt
- Turkey Sandwich
- Use as a pizza sauce
Yes almonds make a great alternative to pine nuts. Just lightly toast to bring out more flavor and make the pesto as directed.
If you find that your pesto is bitter there is a good chance olive oil has turned rancid. Before making pesto taste your olive oil to make sure it is not bitter.
Homemade pesto will last up to a week when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just give it a good mix before using as the oil may slightly separate.
🥫Other Homemade Sauces
Almond Basil Pesto
- ⅓ Cup Almonds - toasted
- 2 Cups Basil Leaves - Packed
- ⅓ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves - Smashed and paper removed
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- Pinch Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice - About half a lemon
- ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese - Freshly grated
- In a small pan over medium heat, toss the almonds until they start to turn dark brown and release a nutty smell. This only takes a couple of minutes.
- In a food processor or high-power blender, add in the basil.
- Then add in all the other ingredients. Almonds, parmesan, lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. The weight of the almonds will help push everything towards the blades.
- Run the food processor for 60-90 seconds.
- After the initial run, take a spatula and scrap down the sides and bottom to mix everything up. This will help any pieces that didn't get blended.
- Repeat until the sauce is pureed to your desired consistency.
- Pro Tip: If your sauce is a bit thicker than you would like add a little bit of cold water at a time until you reach the perfect consistency.
- Use it right away as a pasta sauce or save it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen in ice cube trays to be used later.