If you saw my last garden post, you may have noticed that we’re pretty much swimming in basil here. Although I’ve been snipping off bits of basil for meals for weeks now, to make a really big dent I knew we’d have to make some pesto. (Quite the sacrifice, right? :)) Last weekend we finally got down to it. We harvested two bowls about this size:
It was a lot of basil, but when I looked at the plants afterwards you could hardly tell that any was missing! Ha. I guess that just means that more pesto is in our future. Which is great, of course, because we like making and freezing a lot of pesto in the summer so that we can continue to enjoy it during the winter and spring, long after basil has gone out of season.
If you’ve never made pesto, it’s really not difficult. Picking off the leaves from the stems can be a bit time consuming, but it’s pretty mindless so it’s a great thing to do while watching TV or listening to a great podcast. (Like Harry Potter? Check out these.) If, like me, you hate cleaning your food processor, I recommend making at least a double batch at once. Whatever you don’t eat that night can go into the freezer for future pesto enjoyment.
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
Harvest basil from your basil plants or buy some at the store or farmers’ market. (I used this tutorial to learn how to harvest my basil.) Once harvested, remove the basil leaves from the stems. Rinse leaves then measure out three cups of leaves by loosely packing into a cup measure. Set aside.
Add garlic cloves to your food processor and process until minced. Add basil, parmesan cheese, and about half of the olive oil to the food processor and process for a few seconds. Add the other half of the olive oil and process a few seconds more, until basil is finely minced but not yet liquidy. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
You can store pesto in the fridge if you’re going to eat it within a few days. For longer storage, however, I recommend freezing it in ice cube trays. Frozen pesto cubes allow you to easily add small amounts of pesto to future meals. If you’re cooking a hot meal, you don’t even need to worry about defrosting beforehand—just throw the frozen cubes directly into your hot pan and wait for them to melt.
Do you make pesto? What are your favorite pesto meals?
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