Basil pesto without pine nuts isn’t missing anything when it comes to flavor. If you’re nut free, you can leave out all the nuts or swap in walnuts like I did in this version. No matter how you make it, it’s sure to be delicious.Jump to Recipe
Have you had grocery store jarred pesto? It’s so sad.
It’s time to make it yourself. It’s best while basil and parsley are in season in the summer and you can freeze it for later, but we’ll talk about that near the bottom of this post.
People make it with peas, arugula, and I’ve even seen broccoli rabe. But no matter how many versions there are, there’s nothing like the good old basic.
Spread it on a sandwich with melted mozzarella, toss it in pasta, or add it to any dish that needs a little spark.
Tips for the best basil pesto sauce
- Use quality ingredients. Because there’s very little to bog this recipe down, every ingredient needs to shine. Don’t you dare use powdered parmesan cheese from a can. I’ll hunt you down.
- Get a block of real parmesan, use a good olive oil like California Olive Ranch, and fresh basil and parsley.
- I don’t recommend adding fresh garlic but you can if you want to. I just find that it totally overpowers all of the other flavors and your breath will cause people to faint for the rest of the day. It’s not really worth it.
- The traditional recipe uses pine nuts, but I use walnuts here and we vastly prefer the flavor. If you have an allergy to nuts, it’s fine to leave them out.
Tips for leaving out or swapping the nuts
Obviously toasted pine nuts are the classic addition to pesto, but I have always made this version with walnuts without complaint. Nuts here are mostly for texture and not really flavor so it’s okay if you leave them out. People use a lot of different nuts in pesto–you might like one of these ideas.
How much basil pesto to add to pasta
That’s really to taste, but I do about a tablespoon of pesto to every cup of cooked pasta. If you find that your pesto is too thick, add some of the water your pasta cooked in (a tablespoon or two) to the pasta and pesto and stir. It will help it create more of a sauce like consistency.
How long is basil pesto good for?
Basil pesto without pine nuts can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. I like to pour a layer of olive oil on the surface then place a tight lid on. I use a mason jar for mine–if the pesto is exposed to air it will darken and may change flavor slightly so the olive oil on the top helps protect the flavor and color.
Can pesto be frozen?
Yes. I love to freeze big batches of it every year when basil is in season. To freeze, you can fill an empty ice cube tray with the finished pesto and chill until firm. Pop them out and store them in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To use them, you can take out a few cubes and let them thaw at room temperature or stick them in the microwave for 25 to 30 seconds.
Recipes that use basil pesto deliciously
- Spread it on a tomato basil grilled cheese in place of the basil
- Wrap it up with chicken for a healthy lunch
- Put a layer on pizza
Need a lot of basil? Grow your own!
I’ve been growing basil for more than two decades. See how you can grow basil too.
Basil Pesto without Pine Nuts
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup packed Italian parsley
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup walnuts optional
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- Wash and dry the basil and parsley leaves well. Then in a food processor pulse all the ingredients except the olive oil, just to get things started. Then with the processor running, stream in the olive oil until everything is smooth.
- Freeze any leftovers in an ice cube tray. I love to make a big batch in the late summer and enjoy that fresh flavor all through the winter.