Roasting garlic mellows its sharp flavor and is a great way to use up extra heads of garlic hiding in your pantry. Mix it with nuts, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon and you get a roasted garlic pesto that’s perfect for pasta.
This roasted garlic pesto recipe is an old favorite I first shared way back in ye olden days of this blog, otherwise known the year 2009. It’s a classic basil pesto with a roasted garlic spin and it’s perfect for all the dishes that benefit from a dollop of fresh pesto. Like pasta, grilled meats, sandwiches… you know, all the things.
Roasting the garlic first mellows its sharpness and gives it a sweet, caramelized flavor that takes pesto to a whole new level. It adds a step but it’s not difficult and the results are delicious, I promise. So, let’s make some, shall we?
First, Roast the Garlic
I’ve written a tutorial about how to roast garlic, but it’s so easy I can just sit and tappity-tap-tap it out again here:
- Grap a whole head of garlic and remove the outer papery part.
- Slice just enough off the top to expose the tips of the cloves inside.
- Place it on a sheet of foil and drizzle some olive oil over the top. Wrap the foil around it.
- You can roast the garlic in the oven at 425°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until the garlic cloves are softened.
Let the roasted garlic cool until you can handle it. Then squeeze the soft cloves into a food processor. That’s it. So easy.
How to Make Roasted Garlic Pesto
Once you’ve roasted the garlic it’s a quick blending process to make the pesto.
Add fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and salt to the garlic in the food processor. Pulse it a few times until combined.
While the machine is running, slowly pour in olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.
Homemade pesto will keep in the refrigerator for four to five days or you can freeze it, too.
I love it tossed with hot pasta and fresh tomatoes for a easy, light dinner. You can thin it out with more oil to make a salad dressing, spread it on sandwiches or use it as a sauce for fish, shrimp, chicken, pork and beef.
There are so many opportunities with this one, friends.
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Roasting garlic mellows its sharp flavor and is a great way to use up extra heads of garlic hiding in your pantry. Mix it with nuts, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon and you get a pesto that’s perfect for pasta.
For the Roasted Garlic
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
For the Pesto
- 2–3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (see note)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Roast the Garlic: Remove the loose papery stuff from the outside of the garlic. Slice the top of the garlic off, enough so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place the whole head of garlic on a piece of tin foil, drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top, and pull the tin foil up around it and twist close. There are two ways to roast the garlic:
- Oven Method: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the wrapped garlic directly on the rack and roast for 30 -40 minutes.
- Outdoor Grill Method: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the wrapped garlic directly on the grill, close the lid, and roast for 30 minutes.
- Make the Pesto: Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze it to extract the roasted cloves. Place the roasted garlic, basil, pine nuts, salt, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese in a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to chop and mix the ingredients. With the machine running, slowly add 1/3 cup of olive oil. Check for salt and add additional, if necessary. Makes approximately 1 cup.
Pine nuts are expensive so I often substitute walnuts or slivered almonds when I don’t feel like dipping into my savings account for a half a cup of pine nuts.
- Category: Sauces
- Method: Blend
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 217
- Sugar: 0.3g
- Sodium: 473.7mg
- Fat: 20.2g
- Saturated Fat: 3.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 16.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 7.2g
- Fiber: 1.6g
- Protein: 4.6g
- Cholesterol: 1.3mg
Keywords: roasted garlic pesto, pesto recipe
The nutrition information in this recipe is an estimate only and was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.
Post and photos updated from the archives. First published in 2009.