Nut Free Basil Pesto

We had our first freeze warning in Central Pennsylvania this past weekend and it was a subtle reminder that summer is over and winter is just around the corner. As you may know, I have several different herb plants growing on my patio outside. I love cooking with them but because of the climate, I can only enjoy using my own supply during the warmer months. My basil plant was full of leaves and looked so healthy but I knew its days were numbered so I figured it was a good time to bring it inside and make some pesto. 

Pesto is such an easy thing to make and there are so many ways to make it. I like to keep it simple and use just six ingredients; basil, Parmesan Cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. I have a child with a tree nut and peanut allergy so I do not use pine nuts in my pesto. The taste is delicious without them and it actually keeps the cost down because pine nuts are expensive.

I toss everything but the olive oil into my food processor to combine it. Then I slowly add the olive oil until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the pesto is thick and somewhat smooth, sort of like a course ground mustard consistency.

I like to freeze my pesto so that we can enjoy it long after the basil plants are gone. I use a  1 1/4" cookie scoop to place large tablespoon sized balls of pesto onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. You can use an ice cube tray to make individual cubes of pesto too but this way there is one less thing to wash!

I pop the tray into the freezer until the pesto is firm enough to pick up, about 20 minutes. 

I peel the pesto off of the baking sheet, place it in a Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer. Now whenever I want to add a little flavor to my recipes I can just reach in and grab as much as I need.

I love making pesto because it tastes good and it’s easy to do but there is a little part of me that enjoys feeling like I just saved a little bit of summer too.


Leslie xo

Nut Free Basil Pesto

Author: Leslie Reese
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper (approximately 1/2 tsp)
  • A few pinches of salt (1/2 to 3/4 tsp)
  • About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. In a blender or food processor pulse basil, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper to combine.
  2. Slowly add olive oil with food processor running until mixture forms a smooth and thick consistency.
  3. Scoop or spoon very full tablespoon sized amounts of pesto onto a tray lined with wax paper.
  4. Set tray in freezer until pesto is firm enough to pull off of wax paper.
  5. Place pesto scoops in a Ziploc bag or plastic container and store in freezer.