Towards the end of the summer I harvested stems of basil from our garden then removed the leaves, rinsed and dried them. I measured 2 packed cups and put that in a freezer bag to freeze until I had time to make the pesto. It came out very well and saved me time in the summer when I was very busy. We used some pesto for a meal (mixed with cooked pasta and lightly cooked broccoli and carrots) and froze the rest for another time. We will likely use some to flavor tomato sauce and some to add to cooked beans or lentils for seasoning.
- Ideas for using Pesto:
- Add to flavor soups and sauces.
- Serve with grilled or roasted meat, fish or poultry.
- Mix with mashed avocado, mayonnaise or tahini for a creamy dip, sauce, spread or dressing.
- Add to scrambled eggs, omelets, quiche and frittatas.
- Use spinach instead of basil for a milder flavor. You can make pesto with a combination of most any leafy green, including carrot tops and parsley.
- Basil can be easy to grow at home, in the ground or in a container. Look for local basil at farmers markets during the summer and early fall.
- For more flavor, toast the nuts before adding. Place nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir often until they turn a light brown and remove from heat to cool.
- For a spicier pesto, try adding a dash of black pepper or red pepper flakes.
- No blender or food processor? Use a mortar and pestle or finely chop and mash ingredients. Start with the garlic and salt, then add nuts and basil. Stir oil and cheese.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Try freezing in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Remove when frozen firm and place in an airtight freezer container.
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil or spinach leaves (see Notes)
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup chopped walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts (see Notes)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until all is mixed. Use a spoon or rubber scraper to clean the edges of the container between pulses. If needed, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons water to make the thickness you want.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Use within 3 days or freeze for long-term storage. (See Notes)