I am going to freeze some of this pesto, so I left out the cheese in the main batch, following my former mother-in-law’s rule as well as Mark Bittman’s advice in How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, one of my favorite go-to cookbooks. I’ve added some as I used it (on some chicken breasts the other night) but will freeze the rest without the cheese.
My basil this year is the best I have grown yet. It is flavorful and produces plenty of leaves! I’ve used in Thai curry, tomato caprese salad, pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil, etc. But somehow I hadn’t yet made pesto! So I will be making lots of pesto over the next few weeks. The plant is starting to flower a lot and I don’t want to lose it all!
I picked a huge branch of it and trimmed the leaves off, not worrying about the smaller stems but definitely discarding the woody thick ones. I left a few flowers in. After trimming, I rinsed them all off in a salad spinner and then spun them dry.
- 2 cups of loosely packed basil leaves, rinsed and dried
- a bit of salt, to taste
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 Tbs pine nuts you could lightly toast but I skipped this
- 1/2 cup olive oil, maybe more
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if you're using immediately
- Blend everything in a food processor.
I used my food processor, first blending the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and half the oil. I had to stop and scrape the sides down a few times. Then I added the other half of the oil and finished blending it all together, tasting to adjust the salt. As I said, earlier I did not add the cheese yet since I was planning on freezing.
Note: if you don’t have pine nuts, you can use walnuts or just leave out the nuts. My MIL used to just mix the basil, salt, and oil together, then freeze in plastic bags laid flat. She could break off a pinch here and there as she wanted some fresh basil flavor in a dish.
What’s your favorite use for pesto, other than on pasta?