Meyer lemons...little sun kissed, tangy, sweet citrus that is here to totally up your pesto game. In this Meyer lemon basil pesto the zested skin and juice of the lemon is added to fresh picked basil leaves, spicy raw garlic, toasted pine nuts, rich olive oil, and salty Parmesan cheese.
And we're going to put it on all the things.
No really. Here's how it went down IRL.
"Hey, I'm going to try this new pesto sauce with a piece of bread. Oh wow, that's really yummy. Okay, maybe a little more bread." Then while chewing on the last of the loaf I'm brainstorming how to put it on all of my food the rest of the day....caprese salads, quinoa, pasta, chicken or working it into this Lemon Ricotta Pesto Spaghetti.
And just like that the day got 500x better.
Meyer Lemons vs. Regular Lemons
So what's the big deal, right? You get four smaller lemons in a fancy bag for more money. Here's why it's worth the bother:
- Sweeter than regular lemons but still with the familiar tang. Just not quite as acidic or bitter.
- You could eat them as is, tossed with vinaigrettes, use in baking, sliced thin and roasted without worrying about a super bitter rind.
- You won't be able to find them year round so it's nice to have a little, special 'treat yo'self' ingredient.
Can't find Meyer lemons? You can definitely still make this Meyer lemon basil pesto with regular lemons. It'll just have a little more zip and pop!
There are roughly 7,000 different ways to make pesto. Ok, maybe that's not an exact count but there are a lot of different pesto recipes.
Last summer I was slathering this Kale & Spinach Pesto all over grilled flatbread pizzas and this Avocado Pesto with Zucchini Noodles is easily one of my favorite healthy, yet filling, meals.
So when it comes to pesto I try to follow these steps:
- Basil and/or greens
- Some sort of nut
- Good quality olive oil (this could also be coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cheese optional
- Any add-ins your heart desires...like Meyer lemon, clementines, avocados...you get the point
- While you can definitely make pesto without a food processor, it's admittedly going to make the process way faster. If you're a kitchen gadget minimalist, just make sure everything is chopped as finely as possible and you whisk the olive oil until it slightly emulsifies (thickens.)
- Toast the nuts. Personal preference here, but whether you're using pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds - give them a quick toast in a sauté pan. By warming the nuts, you'll release some of the fragrance and oils and impart more rich flavors into the sauce.
- Add liquid in stages. While I personally love to just dump everything in and go, it will help grind up your solid pieces into small bits if you only add a bit of liquid at a time.
- If you plan on storing your pesto in the refrigerator or freezer, wait to add the cheese. Then add it before you plan on serving it/using it in a sauce.
Ready to get your pesto on? Let's do it! Tell me about your favorite ways to use pesto in the comments!
Meyer Lemon Basil Pesto
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 Meyer lemon (zested and juice)
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Toast: In a small sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Just until fragrant, slightly browned.
- Blend: In a food processor, add the basil, pine nuts, garlic and ⅓ cup olive oil. Pulse 5 to 6 times to break up the ingredients then blend for 1 minutes. Add Meyer lemon zest, juice, salt, and remaining olive oil. Blend for a full minute until combined and oil becomes slightly emulsified.
- Get Cheesy: If using right away, stir in parmesan cheese. If freezing or storing for later, wait to add the cheese until use.
I love that you added the differences in lemons and this recipe is divine! Admittedly, I love my mini food processor but I had no idea it was so easy to live without it 🙂 The recipe is seasoned beautifully, the combination of flavors are perfect and it looks amazing
Whyyyyyy have I never made pesto with meyer lemons. I don't know. But now I know that I HAVE to ASAP. I'm gonna be spreading this on all of the things.
You're gonna be reeeeaaaal happy about it.
This looks wonderful! I love the addition of lemon to pesto but would have never thought about making it at home!
I just made pesto today and am now wishing I had thought to add meyer lemon to it!! Such a fabulous idea!
Oh, wow! Totally loving this fun and unique pesto! Can't wait to try it!
Amanda Mason says
Pesto is one of my all time favorite foods ever! You are so right...there are so many ways to make pesto! I had no idea there was a difference in lemons!! Learn something new everyday!!
Eileen Kelly says
I love pesto it is so versatile! Your recipe is just perfect. Easy and adding Meyer lemon gives that extra zing that will be so tasty in any recipe! I agree, perfect for pasta!
I haven't seen a pesto recipe lately that has piqued my interest as much as this one! Girl, this looks and sounds like a total home run, and I NEED this in my life right now! I'm going to have to save this until Meyer Lemons are in season, b/c I feel like if It tried to source them now, they'd cost me a million dollars, haha! I want to slather this on literally everything!
It will be worth the wait!
This would be so perfect for a pizza sauce ... and some grilled chicken on top! What an awesome way to incorporate that sweet balance into pesto sauce! LOVE it!
Sam | Ahead of Thyme says
Wow this pesto looks awesome! Homemade pesto is so easy to make, adding this to my must make list!
You take really great pictures. This would be perfect tossed in fish or pasta!
Thank you so much Nicole!
This sounds so amazing! I love pesto but that fresh pop of lemon must make it even better.
Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen says
I love Meyer lemons but would have never thought to use them like this! What a great condiment - I'd slather it on soooo many different things. This looks super creamy and delicious. YUM!
Your photos are so amazing! Pesto is one of my favorites and lemon is such a good addition to it!
Thank you Kristen!