Garlic Basil Pesto - My Favorite Recipe!

I absolutely LOVE Pesto in the spring and summer, and use it in a variety of ways - some that I just invent as ComposeI go. This is my very favorite Pesto recipe. I try to make lots of pesto in the summer, when fresh basil is plentiful. I usually make a mess of the kitchen when I make it, but I make enough to last a good while. I freeze it in small portions, as I will explain at the end of this.

Garlic Basil Pesto Recipe
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh Basil Leaves - (mmm, I Love the smell of them!)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 3 to 6 cloves of peeled garlic 
  • 1/4 cup raw, organic sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of honey, or what suits your taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor with a metal blade, chop the basil leaves. Add the cheese, garlic, sunflower seeds and lemon juice and blend again. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and honey and process 'til well mixed. You may have to stop and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula a time or two to get it to blend really well.
Okay, some footnotes:
The "real recipe" calls for pine nuts instead of sunflower seeds, but I think  pine nuts are just too darned expensive, so I sub in the sunflower seeds. You could very well try it with walnuts, as well.
As far as the number of garlic cloves, again go by your taste, but the more your palate can take, the better, as far as health benefits go.(Check out my site on "The Health Benefits of Garlic". My favorite recipe for Roasted Garlic is posted there, as well as an easy recipe for a Healthy Garlic and Onion Pasta Sauce.)
But back to the subject at hand....the Pesto.
I put honey in my Pesto as it seems to cut the strong taste of the garlic, allowing me to add more cloves, and it does sweeten the flavor a bit. You will have to adjust this according to what tastes good to you.
As for freezing the Pesto, I am single, and don't very often cook for anyone else. I found some disposable 2 oz. plastic souffle cups with lids. I portion out the Pesto in those and toss them in the freezer, and thaw out one at a time - a little Pesto goes a long way.

I got a kick out of this. I call these souffle cups, Amazon calls them jello shot cups! I am either behind the times, or maybe just plain boring - or quite possibly both. Would've never thought to search for them as "jello shot cups".
And I've digressed again...

I use my pesto with whole wheat pasta and veggies, spread it on a whole wheat tortilla when I make a veggie wrap, and I smear it on my Thomas Light Whole Wheat, or Multi-Grain English muffins. Sometimes I put some goat cheese on the English muffin as well (okay, sounds weird - but is pretty darn tasty!)
Finished Pesto,  ready for the freezer!

How do you use and eat your Pesto? I'd love to get some more ideas. Weird combinations welcome!

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