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Nut-Free Lemon Basil Pesto

Pesto is one of those sauces that has become a “go-to” to for me in the spring and summer – I just always seem to have it around and am constantly finding new ways to use it. I love the light and fresh flavor plus the fact that it has minimal ingredients and takes almost no time or effort to prepare. Pesto is also such a versatile sauce! I frequently serve it over pasta, spaghetti squash, and salmon OR use it as a pairing with a burrata and crostini appetizer. I also like that you can easily vary the recipe to suit your dish. I’ve done variations with sundried tomatoes, truffle oil, cilantro, you name it!

This particular version is super simple and contains only the basics needed for a delicious pesto. It is gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, and, my favorite part, make-ahead friendly! If you read my recent post about my homemade pasta date night with Max, you know this is one of the recipes I used on that occasion.

The sauce is so easy to make it’s almost silly to create an actual recipe for it! First, you’ll prep your ingredients – remove stems from the basil, grate the parmesan, juice the lemon, and peel the garlic cloves.

nut-free lemon basil pesto

You’ll then place all of your ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor. While the processor is running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feeder tube until your desired consistency is reached. You may choose to use more or less olive oil depending on how thick you prefer your pesto. You may also need to pause a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl and reincorporate all ingredients.

nut-free lemon basil pesto

Once your pesto is nice and smooth, transfer to a separate bowl and combine with cooked pasta (or serve over the dish of your choice)!

nut-free lemon basil pesto

On this particular occasion I was serving the sauce with homemade spaghetti, so I garnished it with additional parmesan cheese and a little whipped ricotta and olive oil.

nut-free lemon basil pesto

This is an excellent recipe to make ahead as it will keep in the refrigerator for several days! If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to try my San Marzano tomato sauce and my cacio e pepe, both of which Max and I made during our date night!

Nut-Free Lemon Basil Pesto
  • 4 oz fresh basil (stems removed)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Add everything except the olive oil to a food processor

  2. While the processor is running, slowly pour olive oil down the feed tube until desired consistency is reached. Note: you may choose to use more or less olive oil depending on how thick you prefer your pesto.

  3. Serve or store in the refrigerator

By Paces West

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