Zesty Lemon Pesto

Zesty Lemon Pesto

Spring looks like it’s finally here! (I hope I didn’t jinx it, although that would be a lot of power for one person). It’s been warm and sunny for pretty much the past week here, with the odd day of April showers thrown in for good measure.

I always associate the arrival of spring with citrus fruit – lemons in particular. The yellow of the lemons reminds me of the sun; and their light, bright flavour is exactly what I want in meals for warmer weather.

So, I thought I’d get super creative and add some lemon to pesto for a fresh spring take on the classic sauce. I sometimes like to swap out or add an ingredient to a dish to see how it tastes. I think that playing with recipes, whether the results are good or bad, is part of how you learn in the kitchen.

The lemon flavour is pretty subtle in this recipe, mainly because the fresh basil is so strong. This is not a recipe where you can swap dried herbs in for fresh herbs. It’s really worth the extra money you’ll spend on fresh basil and parsley! I left out the cheese since I didn’t have any parmesan on hand and try and avoid dairy in general. I upped the amount of pine nuts I used to compensate and added a bit more salt than classic recipes call for.

Pesto is a pretty versatile sauce; you can use it on just about anything. Kitchn has some suggestions for ways to use pesto, other than the obvious one: on pasta.

To make my Zesty Lemon Pesto, you will need…

  • 3/4 cup of pine nuts – don’t freak out! There’s no cheese 🙂
  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup of fresh Italian parsley
  • Zest and juice of one lemon – zest the lemon before juicing it!
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste – I think I used 1 – 2 tsp of salt… maybe?


  1. Basically, add everything to your food processor and pulse it until you get a nice pesto. (I’m not even sure why I numbered this).

I added the salt in stages (pulsed, added a bit more salt; pulsed, added a bit more salt) until I had the amount of salt that I liked. I recommend that you do the same to avoid over-salting your pesto.

Enjoy 🙂

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