I love growing basil during the warm growing season as the tender herb lends such a flavor to many dishes in the kitchen. When you aren’t using basil as a home remedy, making pesto and then freezing it is a great way to preserve your basil harvest for use through the winter months!
Basic Recipe for Basil Pesto
4 Cups of fresh basil leaves (I like to chop them slightly and pack them in pretty good.)
1 Cup Olive Oil (store it out of the light in your pantry to help it last longer.)
3 Cloves garlic, minced or grated (I usually don’t have fresh garlic and buy the pre-minced in big jars at Sam’s Club.)
Parmesan cheese, grated – about ¼ cup per 1 cup of pesto blend, to taste
Salt to taste
Use a blender or food processor to blend the basil and oil. Scrape everything off the sides of the bowl and back into the middle. Add the garlic, cheese and salt to taste and blend into a paste-like consistency.
Storing Pesto In the Freezer
You can store pesto in the freezer for longer term storage. Freeze in small zip-lock freezer bags, small tupperwares or even freeze in an ice cube tray and pop the cubes into larger freezer bags once frozen.
Alternatives and Options for Pesto Recipes
Some people like to add nuts to their pesto – either buy ground nuts or grind your own. Around here pecans are walnuts grow wild, so they would be the options I would turn to. Add about ¼ C ground nuts to the above basic recipe.
If you wanted to use other garden herbs as a basis for your pesto look at parsley, spinach, or even cilantro (an excellent addition to salsas!) to build your pesto.
I love to make Pasta Pesto of course, mixing the pesto paste with cooked pasta. Another great way to use pesto is to mix it with another sauce – a favorite of mine is white alfredo sauce. Mix a cube or two of pesto into mashed potatoes for a unique flavoring, or as a seasoning for sautéed or steamed vegetables.
What are some of your favorite herbs for pesto? What is your favorite way to cook with pesto in the kitchen?