Here's my classic homemade Basil Pesto recipe that's perfect for using up extra herbs from the garden.

Each year, I make sure to harvest the last of the basil in our herb garden before the first frost. You want to harvest your basil leaves before they flower or they can be bitter, and since basil is very sensitive to the cold, harvesting it earlier than later is always a good idea.

Any variety of basil works in pesto, as does parsley or even mint, but I'm partial to purple Thai basil.

My favorite way to use all that basil is in homemade pesto.  And if you have home-grown garlic as well, all the better!

One thing I love about pesto, besides the taste and how versatile it is (you can use it in pasta, or on crackers, or even stirred into scrambled eggs or on sandwiches) is that "pesto" actually means "to pound or crush" in Italian, so the name itself is merely describing an action, not necessarily ingredients.

Although pesto traditionally uses fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and kosher salt blended with olive oil, you can honestly sub in different herbs of your choice - some nice substitutions are mint, parsley or even sage.

My recipe is pretty classic although since I rarely have pine nuts on hand, I have subbed in some walnuts.

Classic Homemade Basil Pesto

Makes approximately two half pint jars.

2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
5 fresh garlic cloves, rough chopped
1 cup walnuts
1 cup olive oil
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In food processor, pulse basil, garlic and walnuts to rough chop. With processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil.

Add cheese and pulse to just combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide into mason jars and refrigerate.

Freeze your pesto in ice cube trays for longer storage.

That's it! I love tossing the pesto with fresh pasta, but it's also good on grilled salmon, on fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwiches or mixed into mayonnaise or scrambled eggs.

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