If basil is the keynote aroma of summer, then pesto is its flavor. When your plants are enjoying the warm weather and the basil is prospering, it’s time to make pesto. Pesto has many uses. Stir a bit into a soup and watch it go from bland to buxom in a heartbeat. Also great in spaghetti sauce, melted over pasta, or spread thinly over pizza dough in place of tomato-based sauce. I find it handy to prepare it in large batches and freeze it in recipe-size portions.
1 cup fresh tender basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts, or olives
1 clove garlic, raw or roasted
1/4 tsp salt
Several grindings black pepper
1/2 – 2/3 cup olive oil
Wash the basil and parsley leaves and pat dry in a clean kitchen towel. You may use tender basil stems from young plants – as long as they aren’t fibrous.
Place all ingredients in blender or food processor, beginning with the smaller amount of oil. Blend until a smooth, adjusting texture with additional olive oil as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Use immediately or freeze for future use, best within 6 months.
Yield: 1 cup
Options for freezing pesto:
- Pack pesto into a canning jar or freezer container with a lid. When needed, use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out what you need and return the container to the freezer.
- Pack 1 cup pesto into a zippertop freezer bag. Flatten the bag into a thin, even sheet and seal; freeze. When needed break off a chunk of pesto and return the bag to the freezer.
- Freeze pesto in an ice cube tray dedicated to the purpose. When frozen, transfer cubes to a freezer container, cover, and return to the freezer.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop tablespoon-size mounds of pesto on the paper leaving 2 inches between. Freeze, uncovered, until solid. When frozen, roll up the parchment paper with the pesto mounds inside and transfer it to a freezer bag. Press air out and seal. Return to freezer.
- Freeze recipe-size portions in quarter-pint jars.