This small batch basil pesto made with the immersion blender is a quick recipe to one of Italy’s signature pasta sauces. Basil pesto from Liguria has that unique combination of refreshing and oily, creamy and fragrant that comes from the perfect balance between all its ingredients.
Having a good pesto recipe can come in very handy. Imagine it’s summer and you have access to delicious basil leaves. Basil pesto is probably the best way to put them to use. And once you see how easy it is to make basil pesto with the immersion blender you’ll be harvesting basil every other day!
In traditional Italian cuisine pesto is a pasta sauce. But that doesn’t have to stop there. Given its texture, it can as well work as a spread to make wonderful crostini and bruschetta. You can also use it instead of tomato sauce to make pesto pizza. Or you can use it in pesto potato salad. There really is more to pesto than just with pasta. Although there’s no denying that pasta truly is pesto’s perfect match.
Basil pesto with the immersion blender
The traditional way to make pesto is with mortar and pestle. It is obviously not as quick and easy process as using the blender. While it can be very satisfying to make a recipe following the traditional method, it could also be unpractical. So the next best thing you can use is a blender. An immersion blender.
Food processors tend to be the most popular choice when it comes to sauce and spread making. I love my food processor and make pesto in it a lot. But before I got myself one I used to make pesto with my cheaper immersion blender. It turns out that the smaller blades of the immersion blender actually deliver a much better job than the food processor when making pesto. Or if not better, they deliver a result more similar to a traditional pesto made with mortar and pestle.
The biggest advantage of an immersion blender is that there is less cleanup. If I’m to use the pesto right away I will cut it with pasta water in the same container I made it. I wouldn’t do that in the food processor unit. And even if I did, the food processor has a lid that counts as one more item to dish. I prefer the food processor if I’m making larger batches, but the immersion blender is perfect for small batch pesto.
Please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for detailed quantities.
The original Ligurian recipe calls for a blend of Parmigiano and Pecorino (possibly Sardo). In this simplified version I narrow it down to just one cheese. It is okay to choose Grana Padano over more expensive Parmigiano Reggiano.
Garlic is necessary. If you are allergic you can obviously skip it – in fact, you can buy pesto without garlic even in Italy. But if you don’t have an issue with garlic you should really really have it in your basil pesto. It’s fundamental to create that perfect combination of flavours.
How to make pesto with the immersion blender
- Separate the basil leaves from the stems, which will need to be discarded. If you’re using your own basil or it’s ecologic you don’t need to wash it, but if you are unsure or it’s a bit soiled you can rinse the leaves and dry through a salad spinner or by gently patting them dry between two towels.
- Add the leaves, garlic (peeled and cut in half), salt, pine nuts and oil to a container you would normally use with the blender – I recommend something tall and with a narrow bottom.
- Start the immersion blender. At the beginning it may be slightly difficult to use due to the various textures. But as the pine nuts break down and the oil blends in the mixture will loosen. Add the grated cheese and give a final blend until smooth.
If the blender gets stuck – it may happen at the beginning when the leaves and the pine nuts are whole – just gently remove the obstruction with a spoon, put it back down in the container and start again. An up and down motion with the blender can also be very helpful.
Small batch basil pesto tips
This small batch basil pesto recipe yields about 150 g pesto (2/3 cup). This is the perfect amount to make 3-4 portions of pasta. Pesto pasta leftovers can be stored in a lunch box and reheated the following day, so this is fine even if you’re only cooking for one.
If you wish to store pesto you can pour it into a closed jar topped with a half cm olive oil. Store refrigerated and consume within 2 days. The oil layer “seals” the pesto preventing it from oxidizing and turning dark, so it’s important to add some before closing the jar. If you wish to store pesto for a longer time you can freeze it for up to 2 months.
Do not add lemon juice to prevent oxidization. Some recipes recommend that but I strongly advise against it. Lemon has such a strong flavour there is no way to hide it and it will change the original flavour of the recipe. If you want to make lemon and basil pesto it’s another story, but if you’re after traditional basil pesto then there should be no lemon. The olive oil trick explained above does the job, as long as you add it immediately to any pesto you’re not using right away.
You may also like
- Pesto potato salad with green beans
- Fresh egg pasta from scratch
- Eggplant ricotta pesto
- Sun-dried tomato pesto with lemon
- Nordic parsley pesto
- Ravioli with hazelnut butter
If you enjoyed this recipe please leave a comment below. Wanna make this small batch basil pesto later on? Pin the recipe to Pinterest so you can come back to it!
Small Batch Basil Pesto
- 40 g basil leaves clean, stems removed
- 1 garlic clove
- 50 g pine nuts
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 20 g parmigiano grated
- 80 ml olive oil
- Add the basil leaves, garlic (peeled and cut in half), salt, pine nuts and oil to a container suited for the immersion blender.
- Start the immersion blender. At the beginning it may be slightly difficult to use due to the various textures. But as the pine nuts break down and the oil blends in the mixture will loosen.
- Add the grated cheese and give a final blend until smooth.
- If you're using home-grown or ecologic basil you don't need to wash it, but if you are unsure or it's a bit soiled you can rinse the leaves and dry through a salad spinner or by gently patting them dry between two towels.
- If the blender gets stuck just remove the obstruction with a spoon, put it back into the container and start again. An up and down motion with the blender can be very helpful before the mixture loosens.
- Store pesto refrigerated in a closed jar topped with a half cm olive oil. Consume within 2 days. For longer shelf life freeze up to 2 months.
- The sealing layer of oil on top prevents the pesto from oxidizing and turning dark. Add it as soon as possible to minimize exposure to air. Do not add lemon juice to prevent oxidization as there is no way to hide its strong flavour.