Homemade Spicy Basil Pesto


For graduation in May my parents gifted me a super nice food processor. Like one that I would never buy for myself. It’s pretty large and has lots of attachments for many different chopping adventures. I was very overwhelmed to open it at first but little by little I’m discovering ways to use it. For example, ice cream, bread dough, and ragu.

This weekend, whilst volunteering at Crabtree Farms, the Workshare Team and I harvested 15 freaking pounds of basil. After giving a quarter-pound to every CSA box, there was still another 5# or so left over. So the Workshares volunteering that day got to take some home. I also received my box, so I was given over a half-pound of basil total. That’s 6-8 cups of emerald, herby goodness! I was super grateful and excited :)

If you’ve ever worked with basil before, you may have noticed that the leaves don’t last long; they turn black soon after being clipped from the plant. So I had to think of a way to use all of it fast.

What better way than making pesto?

I made up this recipe based on ingredients I had but there are plenty of Traditional recipes on the internet as well as other modifications. Feel free to check those out! I will say, though, that this one is pretty divine. It’s spicy (from farm-fresh cayenne and jalapeno peppers), garlicy, and slightly sweet (from a bell pepper). Overall, I loved the texture and flavors; and it was amazing tossed through wheat pasta and raw sungold cherry tomatoes! I would have liked some Parmesan cheese to add more flavor as well but maybe I’ll do that next time. :)

How do you like to make pesto?

Spicy Basil Pesto (sans nuts and cheese)
An amazing twist on a traditional pesto recipe.
  1. 6 cups fresh basil leaves
  2. 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 1 cayenne pepper with or without seeds*, chopped roughly
  4. *the seeds hold the flame, so remove them if you don't want so much spice
  5. 1 jalapeno with or without seeds, chopped roughly
  6. 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped roughly
  7. 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  8. 1/2 red onion
  9. salt to taste
  1. Blend everything in the food processor until desired consistency. Note: start with 1/4 cup oil and increase 1 TBS at a time if processor is having trouble chopping the leaves. Puree in batches if needed. Add salt near the end and taste to determine flavors.
  1. --> Spread onto toasted sourdough bread with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese!
  2. --> Toss into a bowl of fresh spaghetti or other pasta and serve with fruit and fresh veggies with dip!
  3. --> Swirl throughout a container of homemade or storebought hummus and enjoy with simple crackers!
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