This fresh Basil Pesto recipe is brimming with bright and savory peppery basil goodness!  This version is nut-free, made with nutritious hemp seeds and a splash of lemon.  A brilliant condiment that compliments so many dishes.  It is easy to make, freezes beautifully, and is perfectly delicious!  Vegan adaptable and nut-free!

This fresh Basil Pesto recipe is brimming with bright and savory peppery basil goodness!  This version is nut-free, made with nutritious hemp seeds and a splash of lemon.

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.~ Rumi

Basil season is coming on strong here in the midst of summer in the Pacific Northwest.  I have nurtured a few basil plants from seed and now have plenty of luscious peppery leaves to glean for fresh basil pesto!  So gratifying to watch seeds emerge and grow.  I find it cultivates hope, something we all can always use more of!

This brilliant combination of ingredients is popular for so many reasons.  Not only does it add amazing pizazz to pasta, salmon, chicken, potatoes, grilled veggies (and so much more), it is easy to make and it also freezes beautifully.

ingredients in pesto sauce

Ingredients in Basil Pesto:

  • fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grating your own makes a much fresher pesto!
  • hemp seeds
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

This pesto recipe is made with hemp seeds!  Shelled hemp hearts give a perfect richness to pesto.  I tweaked the traditional recipe that uses pine nuts for my nut-free friends and I liked it so much, it has become my go-to pesto recipe.

Plus the nutritional boost of hemp seeds is a bonus.  Hemp seeds are high in amino acids as well as a great source of protein, fiber and essential fatty acids.  The flavor is mild and buttery.  A touch of lemon is added giving a balance to the overall rich and salty flavors.

How to make quick and easy Fresh Basil Pesto:

food processor with olive oil, garlic and hemp seeds

In a food processor, pulse garlic, hemp seeds, and olive oil until garlic is ground up.

add basil, salt and cheese

Pulse in lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.

Add 1/2 of the basil leaves pulsing a few times and then throw the remaining basil in.  Adding the basil last keeps the color of the pesto a little brighter.

Process until mixed yet leave some texture or make it smooth for a silky pesto sauce, totally up to you!

pesto in a serving dish

That’s it! Pesto is now ready to serve or freeze for a wonderful winter treat!

Can Pesto Be frozen?

Yes! I like to freeze in 2 oz jars.  It takes about 10 minutes to thaw in warm water.  It is one of those things that makes me so happy to see in the freezer.  Ready-made pesto equals spontaneous easy dinner prep! See recipe notes for the “how-to”.

How to Store fresh Pesto

This Pesto Sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.  To keep pesto from turning dark, drizzle a little olive oil over the top.  Cover completely with plastic or wax paper or parchment so that it is completely touching the pesto to keep all oxygen out.

This fresh Basil Pesto recipe is brimming with bright and savory peppery basil goodness!  This version is nut-free, made with nutritious hemp seeds and a splash of lemon.

More recipes you may like:

Enjoy!

Tonia

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Basil Pesto

  • Author: Tonia Schemmel | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/4 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This fresh Basil Pesto recipe is brimming with bright and savory peppery basil goodness!  This version is made with nutritious hemp seeds and a splash of lemon.  A brilliant condiment that compliments so many dishes.  It freezes beautifully, it is easy to make and it is perfectly delicious!  Vegan adaptable and nut-free! Makes 1 1/4 cup.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 24 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds, (substitute with walnuts or pinenuts or a combination!)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesean cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, 2 1/2 – 3 ounces

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse garlic, hemp seeds (or other nuts), and olive oil until garlic is ground up.
  2. Add lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and salt.
  3. Add 1/2 of basil, pulse a few times and then throw the remaining basil in.
  4. Process until blended but still a little textured.
  5. Taste, adjust salt to taste.

Notes

To keep pesto from turning dark, drizzle a little olive oil over the top.  Cover completely with plastic or wax paper or parchment so that it is completely touching the pesto, keeping all oxygen out.

This freezes beautifully.  Keep frozen for at least 6 months.

If you prefer a bit more texture in your pesto, add seeds or nuts last and pulse until desired consistency.

Vegan version: double up on the hemp seeds, leaving out the cheese.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
  • Calories: 73
  • Sugar: 0.1 g
  • Sodium: 92.4 mg
  • Fat: 7.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6 g
  • Fiber: 0.2 g
  • Protein: 1.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 1.4 mg

Keywords: Pesto, Basil Pesto, Fresh Basil Pesto, Pesto Sauce,

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Comments

  1. Excellent pesto recipe. Just waiting for my pasta to cook 🙂 What is the best way to freeze basil leaves? I have a whole bunch of basil I want to freeze for future use.

    1. Glad you enjoyed! I think there are several methods out there but this method keeps the color bright. Blanch the basil leaves for just a few seconds then put them in an ice bath, let them mostly dry on a tray or spin in a salad spinner. Freeze in a single layer, then store in an airtight container.

  2. This was delicious, as well as every other recipe of yours that I’ve tried! We put it on our pizza dough tonight made with your sourdough starter recipe.

  3. Delicious! I am dairy-free, so I substituted the parmesan with a 1/3 cup raw cashews and pulsed together in Step 1. I use cashews a lot to mimic dairy, and it worked out well here!

  4. I loved your recipe, Sylvia, especially using hemp seeds. I can’t wait to it serve with tonight’s pasta

  5. Thank you again Sylvia
    You are a Goddess and I look forward to your recipes each Sunday!
    Especially during lockdown in Australia. Your recipes are amazing and mostly I love how healthy and easy they are to follow. They are visually stunning too.
    Many thanks once again.

  6. I discovered last fall that putting pesto i to ice cube trays and freezing it is one the best things you can do for quick pasta sauce come winter. I can’t wait to stock up again this fall. Also…a frozen cube of pesto is fantastic in a cup of broth for a quick impromptu cup of soup.

    1. I came looking for a good pesto recipe and found your lovely idea with broth! Thanks, I am trying it now!! Yummy!!

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