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Pesto di Limone (Lemon Pesto)

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This quick Pesto di Limone (lemon Pesto) from Procida, Italy, is a tasty variation of a classic basil pesto. It takes 10 minutes to make and enhance any dish, even non-Italian. 

Made with fresh lemon zest, juice, basil, garlic, and olive oil, this lemon pesto creates a delicious dip, sauce, or spread packed with nutrients.

Like many Italian dishes, the beauty of this pesto lies in its simplicity. With just a few ingredients you likely already have in your pantry, you can create something delicious and healthy.

Pesto di limone Origine

Recipe Origine

When I first saw it on YouTube, this recipe originated from Procida Island (1), where lemons are crucial in local cuisine. They grow locally as big as grapefruits and are sweeter than oranges. They are called limoni di pane di Procida. Lemons are typical, with thin outer skin and thick, spongy pith.

Lemons appear twice in this recipe, in the form of lemon zest and lemon juice, along with pine nuts, garlic, basil, and parmesan. 

This famous Italian dish is versatile. It can be used as a pasta sauce, pizza spread, or marinade for fish or poultry.

paghetti al pesto di limone Recipe

Why you will love this recipe?

  • Healthy and Nutritious: made with wholesome ingredients, this recipe aligns with longevity principles.
  • Quick and easy! No cooking is required to make it.
  • It’s pantry-friendly! You probably have all the necessary ingredients at home.
  • Creamy texture: The combination of lemon juice with other ingredients results a creamy consistency that coats your pasta beautifully, ensuring every bite is tasty.
  • adds Brightness and lemony flavor to any dish
Ingredient Description to make Pesto di Limone

Ingredient Description to make Pesto di Limone

Lemons

If you have access to lemons from Procida Island, go ahead and use them in this recipe. If not, Meyer lemons are a great choice because they’re sweeter. However, any lemons will work as long as they are organic. Since we’ll be using the peel, we want to use unwaxed organic lemons. The wax isn’t harmful but can affect the pesto’s taste. You can remove the wax by soaking the lemons in hot water and scrubbing them with a brush.

Once the lemons are clean, peel off the yellow peel, leaving the bitter white pit behind. The yellow peel adds a zesty flavor, while the white part is bitter.

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Olive oil is a key ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, and this lemon pesto comes from there. It adds a rich, fruity flavor that complements the citrusy notes. It also helps make the pesto sauce smooth and creamy.

Pine seeds

Pine seeds give this pesto a crunchy, nutty texture. It’s best to roast them before adding them to the pesto.

Herb – Basil

Basil is usually the main herb in pesto, but it’s optional in this recipe. I used fresh basil, but this pesto can still taste great without it.

Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan, also called Parmigiano, adds a unique nutty flavor to the pesto sauce. However you can also use Pecorino Romano that is more salty and add earthy undertones.

Garlic

Garlic gives the recipe a strong flavor that many enjoy. Try roasted garlic or garlic powder if it’s too strong for you. I don’t recommend leaving it out entirely.

Lemon Pesto (Pesto di Limoni) Recipe

Although you can use a food processor, I chose the traditional mortar and pestle method for a more authentic touch.

Step One: Toasting the Pine Nuts

Heat a dry skillet over medium heat, then add the pine nuts. Toast them until they turn lightly golden and emit a fragrant aroma, stirring occasionally to prevent burning (about 2 minutes). Once toasted, transfer the pine nuts to a plate to cool for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

step by step how to make pesto di limone

Step Two: Crushing the Pine Nuts

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the pine nuts until they form a coarse paste.

Step Three: Adding Garlic and Fresh Basil Leaves

Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Rinse the basil leaves under lukewarm water and add them to the mortar. Crush them with the pestle until they break down and release their aroma.

Step Four: Incorporating Parmesan, Lemon Zest, and Lemon Juice

Scrape down the sides of the mortar with the pestle, then add grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and juice.

Step Five: Drizzling in Olive Oil

Gradually drizzle in olive oil while mixing with the pestle until you achieve the desired consistency.

Taste the pesto and season with salt and pepper. 

How to make Spaghetti with lemon pesto sauce?

Most Italians use this pesto sauce to make a Pasta al Limone Recipe.

You can use any type of pasta or noodles, like fettuccine or Spaghetti.

pesto pasta

Spaghetti al pesto di limone Recipe

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve a cup of pasta cooking water..

Toss the cooked Spaghetti with the prepared lemon pesto sauce in a large serving bowl until the pasta is evenly coated. You can use warm, starchy water to get a nice creamy consistency.

If the pasta seems dry, gradually add some reserved pasta water to the bowl and toss until the desired consistency is reached.

Garnish pasta dish with additional grated Parmesan cheese and toss fresh basil leaves. 

Serve with a glass of wine. Buonissimo! Pesto di limone e basilico!

Why you will love this recipe?

Other than pasta uses

Alternatively, you can spread the pesto on sandwiches and wraps or thin it out with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to create a flavorful salad dressing or marinade for grilled vegetables.

Spread the pesto onto pizza dough as a delicious alternative to traditional tomato sauce, and use it as a marinade or sauce for grilled meats like chicken, fish, or pork to add a bright and zesty flavor to the dish.

How to store the lemon pesto?

When kept in an airtight container, this sauce can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to one week. To prolong its shelf life, consider covering the surface of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil before sealing the container.

Another option is to freeze the pesto in ice cube trays for convenient portioning. Once the cubes are solid, transfer them to a freezer bag. This method allows you to thaw only the amount needed for future use while keeping the remaining pesto fresh for an extended period.

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Ingredient Description to make Pesto di Limone
How to store the lemon pesto?

Pesto di Limone (Lemon Pesto)

Vladka Merva
This quick Pesto di Limone (lemon Pesto) from Procida, Italy, is a tasty variation of a classic basil pesto and takes less than 10 minutes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Savory Dishes, Dips and Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2
Calories 272 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 cup Basil leaves
  • Zest and juice from 1 large lemon 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons 45 ml Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Roasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan grated

Instructions
 

  • Heat a dry skillet over medium heat, then add the pine nuts. Toast them until they turn lightly golden and emit a fragrant aroma, stirring occasionally to prevent burning (about 2 minutes). Once toasted, transfer the pine nuts to a plate to cool for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the pine nuts until they form a coarse paste.
  • Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Rinse the basil leaves under lukewarm water and add them to the mortar. Crush them with the pestle until they break down and release their aroma.
  • Scrape down the sides of the mortar with the pestle, then add grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and juice.
  • Gradually drizzle in olive oil while mixing with the pestle until you achieve the desired consistency. Taste the pesto and season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 272kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 1gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 18gSodium: 222mgFiber: 2gSugar: 16g
Keyword Lemon Pesto, Pesto di Limone
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Vladka on April 15th, 2024

1 Comment on “Pesto di Limone (Lemon Pesto)”

5 from 1 vote

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