Bright And Fresh Pesto Recipe

The term "pesto" doesn't refer to a specific set of ingredients, but rather how they are prepared. That said, many are made with herbs, with the most popular version using basil as its primary ingredient and source of that vibrant, green hue. Recipe developer Miriam Hahn likes to follow suit as she feels "basil tastes so fresh and it has so many health benefits."

So what makes this particular pesto "bright and fresh," as per the title, besides its very verdant visage? Hahn explains that while "some pestos can be heavy with cheese and oil," she would categorize this one as "lighter and fresher tasting ... not to mention, so much healthier." She does, however, include one ingredient that isn't always found in similar recipes: capers. While capers aren't universally beloved, Hahn feels that you really ought to try them in this dish. She says that they "give this recipe a salty tang with a savory overlay," so perhaps they can help to supply some of the elements you might otherwise get from Parmesan cheese, with a little added brine.

Gather the ingredients for this pesto

In addition to fresh basil and capers, this pesto needs olive oil to keep it together while it gets additional flavor from garlic, pine nuts, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. While you'll only need the zest from a single lemon, you might need some extra juice if your citrus isn't particularly juicy; you'll want about 3 tablespoons in all.

Prepare the produce

Before you get started on the pesto-making, you will first need to zest that lemon, then cut it in half and squeeze the juice.

You will also need to peel and chop the garlic. Yes, you'll eventually blitz it in a food processor anyway. But this extra step, Hahn explains, is "so that you don't get any chunks that didn't get blended" when you make the pesto.

Purée the pesto

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend or process the mixture for 2 minutes, or until it is smooth. Stop and scrape down the sides from time to time so all of the ingredients get incorporated.

Put the pesto to use

Now that you have your pesto, what are you going to do with it? Hahn describes this condiment as "super versatile" and goes on to say that while you could of course use this on pasta, "it makes great bruschetta." She also uses it on sandwiches, burgers, fish, and chicken. It could also be dolloped into a bowl of soup.

Worried about your pesto turning brown before you can use it? Just store it in a small container covered with a layer of olive oil.

Bright And Fresh Pesto Recipe
5 from 51 ratings
Lean to make the greenest of green sauces. This Italian favorite is great on pasta, but you should also try it alongside a variety of savory meals.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pesto with spoon and napkin
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 3 tablespoons of juice)
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  1. Peel and mince the garlic.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  3. Purée the pesto for at least 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container, with a thin layer of olive oil covering the top of the pesto to prevent browning.
Calories per Serving 182
Total Fat 18.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 4.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Total Sugars 1.0 g
Sodium 121.6 mg
Protein 2.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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