Saturday, July 2, 2011

Make and Freeze Basil Pesto

As expensive as basil pesto is in the stores, you'd think it was difficult to make; but it is incredibly easy. The only equipment you need is a food processor or blender.


2 cups fresh packed basil leaves (pack them into a measure cup and press them down with your hand).

1/4 cup pine nuts (if you don't have pine nuts, you can use walnuts or hazelnuts)

3 garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 tablespoon of prepared minced garlic)

1 tablespoon "fruit fresh" or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Fruit fresh is available at most grocery stores where canning supplies like pectin and pickling salt are sold. It is basically a form of citric acid and vitamin C, that helps prevent the pesto from turning brown upon exposure to the air.

1/4 cup Olive oil. It should be the "extra virgin" variety, not the ordinary cooking olive oil. If it is extra virgin, it will say that on the label.

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (only if not freezing).

Pick the leaves off of the stems. Discard any flower buds, stems or leaves that aren't in good shape. All we want are leaves; small, medium or large; as long as they are a healthy green, not brown.

Wash the basil in a large bowl under cold water. Chop the pine nuts, olive oil and garlic in the food processor or blender. 
Add the basil leaves and olive oil and chop. Now start putting basil leaves (in small batches) into the food processor and chop them into the garlic, olive oil and pine nuts.
Chop the mix until it forms a thick, smooth paste.
Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar to the batch really seems to bring the flavor alive. You can use splenda also.

Blend in the grated Parmesan cheese, (note: If you are going to freeze the pesto, leave out the cheese, it doesn't freeze well), You can add the cheese to your recipe when you use the pesto for cooking.

The pesto will keep in refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it and it will last for 3 to 6 months. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, when it's frozen, just pop the cubes out of the tray and put them into a freezer bag. When you need them, just take one of two of the cubes out to use in cooking.

Most people serve it over pasta or use it to season fish and chicken dishes, I like to put it homemade vegetable soup in the winter....lovely way of remembering my summer garden! Enjoy!

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