Garden Fresh Pesto

See that picture up there, the salad and pasta? This is my very favorite type of dinner. It can’t get much healthier than this–for several reasons–but mealtime preparation (after it’s made initially) is quick and very easy.

In my new series GOOD EATS, I present Recipe #2: home made pesto. I give you this one now, because, as you’ll see, there is still time to plant. It’s worth the time, as nothing beats home made pesto.


For me, with pesto, it is a bit of this and a bit of that. I don’t measure; I simply taste as I go. But, first and foremost, it has to start with the best of the best. (Yes, I was taught not to start a sentence with “But,” however, my third grade teacher is no where to be found, so, it stays. Besides, just saying so practically lets me off the hook. But, whatever…).


garden fresh basil, 2015

May 2016_basil 2016


<<< Lupine. 🙂



<<<Planted April 7th.



There is still time!!



<<<Aren’t they cute?!!?



May 2016_greenhouse babies (1)

UPDATE: basil, photo taken May 6, 2016


Meet Gandalf, our rescue cat. He likes to wedge between me and my chair when I type.

OK, back to the pesto. Here are the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper.


real Parmesan, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower seeds


basil, olive oil, sunflower seeds, ground pepper

I begin the process by removing the leaves from the stems. I then rinse the leaves and pat dry with cloth towels.

I pour a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of the food processor. I pack in several layers of leaves. I add a bit more oil and more leaves until the bucket is mostly full. I blend a bit, then add about 1 cup of seeds and about 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan. Again, I never measure; I stop and taste.

IMG_20150718_100150104The amount of oil will vary. When I’ve tried to use less for caloric purposes, I end up adding it anyway when the pesto is blended with the pasta. I found that adding enough oil at this point, about how you’d find it from a grocery store jar (fairly oily), is about perfect.

Some recipes call for salt, but I usually do not add it because I use salted sunflower seeds. I do use freshly ground black pepper at this point, to taste. As for the garlic, some folks saute 2-3 cloves per batch on the stove in butter before adding to the bucket for blending. I do not saute the garlic as I have found the flavor to hold up very well in the freezer throughout the year. Probably doesn’t hurt that I usually use 3-4 cloves instead of 2-3.

Separating the leaves from the stems is by far the most time consuming part of this whole affair; however, again, it is well worth your time. For two batches* of pesto, I usually stuff two paper grocery bags full of leaves/stems from the garden.

When the batch is complete to taste, I spoon roughly 1/2 cup amounts of pesto into a lightly sprayed muffin tin, and fill each cup (depending on how much I have).

May 2015_pestoWhen the tray is full I cover it with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. When frozen, I remove the sections from the tin, place in a gallon sized plastic bag and refreeze.

TO USE: I reheat ~ two sections in a microwave safe bowl along with enough olive oil to make a smooth paste, and blend with cooked pasta. Top with Parmesan and sliced cherry tomatoes.

IMG_20150817_183608667GUIDELINES, per batch, for those who like more concrete directions:

Two grocery bags full of fresh basil leaves/stems, 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil, 3-5 cloves garlic, 1 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup or more freshly grated Parmesan, a couple squirts (doses? How is black pepper measured anyway?) of ground black pepper, a pinch of salt (if needed).

*One batch of freshly made pesto.


PLEASE let me know if when you try this recipe, and please come back and comment. ENJOY!!!

  20 comments for “Garden Fresh Pesto

  1. Herman
    May 8, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Hi Karen. Thank you for visiting and following HoB. Much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May 6, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    When we get home, I’m planting some basil so I can try this. I love pesto, but I’ve never made it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. May 6, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    I like that you put them in tins for freezing so you can use just small amounts at a time. Great idea. I would never have guessed sunflower seeds. Never made my own so that shows you what I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 7, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Marlene, I also use both sized tins because sometimes having those smaller amounts makes sense, depending on how many people I am serving. I was told by a cousin that she uses sunflower seeds because they are quite good in this recipe and are much cheaper than pine nuts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 7, 2016 at 7:39 am

        Good to know. Thank you. I like learning something new everyday. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 7, 2016 at 7:42 am

          Marlene, do you have a garden?

          Liked by 1 person

          • May 7, 2016 at 10:24 am

            Just getting one started. I moved in the summer of 14 and had so much work to do on this house, I’m just barely catching up. Marked out where the planter bed is going this morning. It’s a unique area for growing so I have to be careful. Creosote railroad ties are the terracing material so I can’t plant edibles in there. Just flowers and shrubs. Found some lemon basil on the hill and am growing that in pots until I find a good spot.


            • May 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm

              My mother moved in 2014 as well, and it has taken all of this time for her to feel settled. She moved from the three-story house she’d lived in for 51 years–where I grew up–into 388 square feet of Independent Living. Her move was the impetus for me to start blogging (due to the boatload of documentation we uncovered). She has planters and pots on her deck, some with flake flowers (but don’t tell anyone), and is happy with that. It’s an incredible amount of work. What will you do with your lemon basil?

              Liked by 1 person

            • May 7, 2016 at 4:06 pm

              I don’t really know what to do with the lemon basil. For now it just smells good and up in the terraced area, it’s good ground cover. Grows like a weed. The last 2 years have been a bit whelming. It does take a lot of time to get settled. I’m in a 1500 sq. ft. Manufactured home. I have a small yard but it’s turning out to be more work than I expected for a woman my age. Guess I won’t rust up working this hard though. 🙂


            • May 7, 2016 at 4:21 pm

              That is so funny, Marlene. I guess it depends on where you live. I am in Oregon, and around these parts, rusting is a continual threat. 😉 Well, do you have a food dehydrator? I had so much basil last year that I broke out my dehydrator and put it to good use. I now wish I had dried more basil than I did because even with two jars, I ran out. It was so much more fragrant than store-bought. I must have put it on everything. After all that pesto I made, and the basil I dried, I only used half the bed I grew.

              Liked by 1 person

            • May 8, 2016 at 3:38 am

              I’m in Portland, Or area! 🙂 So I know about rust too. 😉 No, I don’t have a dehydrator. I’m sure there are ways to dry without one.

              Liked by 1 person

            • May 8, 2016 at 9:17 am

              I’ll be darned. That is too funny! Well, I just heard our weather report for Portland and it is supposed to be better than they said yesterday; more sunshine later. Crossing my fingers. Have a Happy Mother’s Day, Marlene.

              Liked by 1 person

            • May 8, 2016 at 9:32 am

              Happy Mother’s Day to you as well. It’s nice and cool today! Yay! 🙂


            • May 8, 2016 at 9:37 am

              Thank you! 🙂


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