How To Make Late Summer Harvest Basil Pesto

mason jar filled with late summer harvest basil pesto sitting on cutting board

If you have an abundance of basil in your garden, pesto is a great way to use it. Let me show you how to make late summer harvest basil pesto.

This recipe is so delicious and I love to make a lot at one time, and freeze it.

can you freeze pesto?

Yes, you absolutely can freeze basil pesto!

I’ve been doing that for years, and let me show you how I like to freeze basil pesto.

You will need clean ice cube trays, saran wrap and a freezer safe ziplock bag.

After you have made your pesto, pour it into the ice cube compartments filling almost to the top.



Cover the entire tray with a piece of saran wrap.

Put in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Once it is completely frozen, remove from the freezer, and let sit for about 10-12 minutes.

This will allow the olive oil to thaw just enough to easily release from the tray.

I like to wrap 2 cubes of the pesto in saran wrap, then place inside the freezer bag. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but I think it helps preserve them from any freezer burn.

You can put as many as you like in the saran wrap, I just use 2 in case I only want to thaw a little at one time. You can always remove more than 1 saran wrap bundle at a time, if you want to thaw more.

Once you have wrapped all of your pesto cubes in saran wrap, place them inside the freezer bag, close up tight and put back in the freezer.

Be sure and write the date on your freezer bag, so you know when you put them in the freezer. They will easily keep for 6 months.

what is pesto made of?

Traditionally, pesto is made from a blend of fresh basil leaves, parmesan, olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic.

I added a little twist to this basil pesto recipe which I think takes it to another level.

Although basil is the most common pesto, cilantro is a close second. There are actually lots of pesto recipes using lots of different ingredients.

For example, sun dried tomato pesto, spinach pesto, red pepper pesto, and the list goes on.

ingredients for my basil pesto recipe

2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 fresh garlic clove
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (recipe below)
3 ounces fresh parmesan
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

how to make late summer harvest basil pesto

Remove basil leaves from the stem and discard any damaged leaves.
Rinse the leaves and remove excess water.
I like to use my salad spinner for this, but you can press the leaves between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Add 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves to a food processor bowl.

Add garlic clove. I used garlic that I grew this year and it was very small, so I used 2 cloves. But 1 is plenty, if you are using a larger clove. This may take some experimenting to see how much you like.

I roughly chopped the garlic, then add to the basil leaves in the food processor.

Add 1/4 cup toasted walnuts. To toast the walnuts lay them out flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.



I rough chop the walnuts after they are toasted and add the the basil and garlic mixture.

Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.

Add 3 ounces fresh parmesan.

Lastly, add juice from 1/2 lemon.

Process the ingredients together for about 15 seconds, then turn off the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Process another 10-15 seconds until all ingredients are broken down and combined.

While running food processor, slowly add 1/2 cup good quality olive oil until you reach your desired consistency. You can add a bit more olive oil if you want a thinner consistency.

tips/variations for making basil pesto

I can’t stress enough how important it is to use good quality and fresh ingredients.

A good parmesan, and a good quality olive oil make so much difference in the flavor.

Also, use fresh garlic and a real lemon. Lemon juice concentrate from a bottle, just isn’t the same.

If you prefer, you can use toasted pine nuts instead of toasted walnuts. This may be an experiment to see which flavor you prefer.

You can double or triple this recipe and make a lot all at one time. I usually make it at the end of summer which is why I am referring to this as late summer harvest basil pesto.
I keep some in the fridge in an airtight jar, then freeze the rest.

Basil pesto makes a great gift for a neighbor, friend or family member. Put some in a cute jar, tie with a ribbon and add a fun tag with suggestions for using.

If you don’t have basil in your own garden, perhaps a friend or neighbor would be willing to share. You could offer to make them some pesto in exchange.

Or, most grocery stores carry fresh basil in the produce department. It may be a bit pricey to buy this much, but totally worth it!

what do you use basil pesto for?

overhead view of tomato soup in a white cup with basil sprig and homemade croutons on top

There are SO many wonderful uses for basil pesto!

Here are just a few of my faves…..

Caprese salad – fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, with a drizzle of balsamic syrup or glaze, and topped with fresh basil pesto.

Spread on warm bread, like this homemade beer bread. This bread is only 3 ingredients and so simple to make, but it is delicious. And the basil pesto takes it to another level!

Topping for mashed potatoes.

Drizzle on top of tomato soup. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this on top of my favorite tomato soup recipe. 3 ingredients, and truly the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. The pesto on top makes it even more amazing!!!

Mix basil pesto with warm pasta.

Use it on homemade pizza.

Add to a grilled cheese. Spread pesto on bread, add the cheese and grill. THE best grilled cheese ever!

The possibilities are endless, these are just a few of my personal faves.

overhead view of white platter of caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and late summer harvest basil pesto

I hope you enjoyed seeing how to make last summer harvest basil pesto, how to freeze basil pesto, and lots of used for basil pesto.

I would love to hear if you try it, and how you like to use basil pesto!

mason jar filled with late summer harvest basil pesto sitting on cutting board

Basil Pesto

The best basil pesto recipe and you can freeze it!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups

Equipment

  • food processor
  • sharp knife
  • baking sheet

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces fresh parmesan
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Remove basil leaves from stems and discard any damaged leaves.
  • Rinse leaves and remove excess water. I like to use my salad spinner for this, but you can also press the leaves between paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Add 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves to a food processor bowl.
  • Add garlic clove. I like to rough chop before adding to the food processor.
  • Add 1/4 cup toasted walnuts. For toasting walnuts, spread a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. I like to rough chop before adding to the basil mixture.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
  • Add 3 ounces good quality parmesan.
  • Process about 15 seconds, then turn off the machine and scape down sides of bowl and process another 10-15 seconds until all ingredients are broken down.
  • While running the processor, slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil and continue running the processor until you reach the desired consistency. You can add more olive oil if you prefer a thinner pesto.

Notes

Tips and Variations:
You can substitute toasted pine nuts for walnuts, if you prefer or omit if you have nut allergies.  
I cannot stress how important good quality ingredients are.  It makes a big difference in the flavor.  Use a good quality olive oil and fresh parmesan.  Also, fresh squeezed lemon, and not the bottled concentrated and fresh garlic cloves.
You can freeze this pesto. Pour pesto into clean ice cube trays.  Place in freezer.  After is completely frozen, pop cubes out, wrap individual cubes in saran wrap and place them all inside freezer safe bag. 
Keyword basil, basil pesto, pesto, sauce, spread

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6 thoughts on “How To Make Late Summer Harvest Basil Pesto

    1. Of course! So glad you found inspiration here!

  1. I love homemade pesto and I can’t wait to try this recipe, Michele. I’m going to share it on my Saltwater Sounds wrap-up tomorrow.

    1. Thanks so much Kim, I really appreciate that!

  2. What a great recipe, Michele! My basil plants did so well this summer and now I know how I can use it! I am so excited to feature your post at the Tuesday Turn About link party this week. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Oh wow, thanks so much! I really appreciate the feature!

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