Strolling through a farmers’ market is one of the most pleasurable fall activities, I think! One of the great things bout this time of year is the sheer abundance and variety of produce available. Today I’m sharing not one but two ways to transform bunches of fragrant basil into delicious pesto. (And these recipes are even budget-friendly!) Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, but at well over $12 a container at the grocery store… my recipes use toasted almonds instead, and are every bit as delicious.

Use the same basic pesto recipe to create two variations: Zesty Lemon and Spicy Thai Chili | flourishandknot.com

First up we have a zesty lemon pesto, made with basil, almonds, and plenty of fresh lemon! The lemon adds a great acidity to the pesto.

A spin on traditional pesto: Zesty Lemon Pesto | flourishandknot.com

Zesty Lemon Pesto

1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup of toasted almonds (skins on is a-ok!)

Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

4 tbsp of olive oil

2 raw garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet at 350°, turning once until they are golden and aromatic.
  2. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients – except the salt and pepper – and blitz until the ingredients are minced very finely. Stop and scrape down the sides periodically.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Blitz once more to incorporate the salt and pepper.

It is simple and quick to make, and will really add flavour to any pasta dish you’re making. You can toss your spaghetti in just a bit of love oil, sautéed garlic and this pesto for an instant meal. I also love it as part of a dip recipe!

Lemon + Basil + Toasted Almonds = Delicious zesty lemon pesto! | flourishandknot.com

The second version of this recipe is a spicy thai chili pesto. If you like a little heat in your food, this is for you! Of course you can put as much or as little chili as you like.
A simple recipe for Spicy Thai Chili Pesto - add a little zip to your pasta! | flourishandknot.com

Spicy Thai Chili Pesto

1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup of toasted almonds

4 tbsp of olive oil

2 roasted garlic cloves

1 1/2 finely chopped red thai chilies (use 2 if you prefer more zip, and 1 if you prefer a milder spice)

1 tsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

  1. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet at 350°, turning once until they are golden and aromatic.
  2. Roast the garlic cloves in a dribble of olive oil on a baking sheet at 350° until they are golden.
  3. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients – except the salt and chilies – and blitz until the ingredients are minced very finely. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides periodically.
  4. Incorporate the chili peppers in increments until you are satisfied with the amount of spice. Add the salt, tasting frequently.

The great thing about this recipe is that it is next to impossible to ruin, and there are an infinite number of variations on it. The trick is to have a good balance of acid + herb + oil + seasoning, and the only way to achieve it is to do frequent taste-tests. Which is a real hardship, I know. #foodieproblems

I encourage you to try out different combinations of flavours to make this pesto “yours”. Here are some suggestions:

  • Lemon + Basil + Dill (I may have tried this one. And it may have been delicious!)
  • Chili + Sundried Tomato + Basil
  • Cilantro + Basil + Lemon
  • Basil + Roasted Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar

I stored my pesto in two-portion servings by first freezing it in an ice cube tray, and then popping the wrapped cubes into a ziplock bag. So simple and convenient!

Freeze pesto in an ice cube tray to create ready-made portions

I hope you are able to get out to your local farmers’ market to enjoy some bountiful fall produce. Fall is just the BEST! In case you need some more inspiration for what to do with your haul, here are my recipes for homemade tomato sauce and dill pickles.

It feels great to be back to blogging after my post-baby break. I’m looking forward to sharing a fall tablescape with you next week as part of a great blog hop. See you then!

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30 Comments on Homemade Pesto Two Ways

  1. Yum!! I love pesto but have never made my own. I bet it’s way better! Love the ice tray idea ;). pinning!

  2. I love the idea to freeze them in ice cube trays, and that spicy one looks so good! I’ve never tried to make any variations before – now I think I need to!

  3. I always wanted to prepare a good pesto, but on all the recipes that I stumbled upon, there was always peanuts in the ingredients (the french receipe), and am not a big fan of peanuts in cooking receipes, am happy to have found this one, I will surely try it.

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