If I had to choose one sauce to make and cook with for the rest of my days, it would be this beautiful basil pesto. This blend of fresh basil, toasted nuts, lemon juice and ever-so-spicy olive oil is the perfect pairing for your favorite noodle or “zoodle” (zucchini noodle.) Bright, verdant and full of zesty flavor, it tastes just as delicious as it looks and is easy to make and enjoy all summer long.
In addition to summer’s favorite herb, garden basil, all you need are a few simple pantry ingredients and a food processor to whip up this special sauce. I love to add it to my favorite pasta or vegetable noodles for a simple summer lunch. This pesto is also fantastic atop grilled or toasted bread (gluten-free,if desired) and makes a wonderful addition to scrambled eggs. It can also be used as a marinade for most proteins, such as chicken or fish, and makes any roasted vegetable pop with flavor.
Makes Approx. 3 Cups of Pesto
- 1/4 C. walnuts, lightly toasted*
- 1/4 C. pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted*
- 1/4 C. garlic cloves, peeled (about 6-9 cloves, depending on size)
- 1/4 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice (the juice of one medium lemon)
- 4 1/2-5 C. fresh basil (washed, dried & lightly packed)
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
- Your choice of pasta or vegetable noodles, for serving**
*To toast nuts in the oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place nuts in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place nuts in the oven and cook for 5 minutes before removing and stirring the nuts in the pan so that they toast evenly. Return nuts to the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes depending on how full the pan is. The nuts are finished when they are lightly browned, very fragrant and you can hear them crackle when they are out of the oven. Let cool completely before using in this recipe or others.
**I use and love Banza noodles and homemade spiralized zucchini noodles.
- Place the nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor with the standard blade attached and pulse for 30 seconds. Stop the processor to scrape down the sides and move any large chunks of garlic or nuts down to the bottom.
- Next, add the lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper. Pulse for another 30 seconds before scraping down the bowl once more. Reattach the lid and remove the feed tube, so that you can add the olive oil.
- Finally, with the food processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until all of the oil is completely blended in with the pesto mixture. This should take about 60 seconds. Stop to scrape down the bowl one last time and then pulse for 30 more seconds.
- Prepare your pasta of choice according to the package directions, remove from the heat and let cool completely before adding the pesto (about 2-3 tablespoons per serving of pasta or zoodles.) Garnish with additional fresh basil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some extra pumpkin seeds if you’d like. If you are using fresh zucchini noodles, you can quickly boil or sauté them for 2 minutes to cook them or you can leave them fresh for a noodle that is more crisp. This dish is best served at room temperature.
Storage: The pesto will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days, well-sealed and covered with a little bit of olive oil to prevent browning. You can also freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray or tupperware container for later use.
This recipe was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, and her pesto recipe located on the Food Network website. With my simple adjustments to make this dairy-free, it’s worthy of any noodle your heart desires. If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me @danimarielinds on Instagram and please don’t hesitate to leave questions below.