In a typical growing season we have tons of basil. Anyone who visits our home must leave with some. If they refuse we find a way to sneak it into their belongings before they leave!
This season is different. We have had our own Beetlemania, but our version does not hail from the UK. Our Beetlemania is the Japanese variety and they have devoured most of our crop. However, I do believe my daughter named one of them Ringo.
Thankfully a friend and local edible gardening enthusiast traded me some of her perfect Genovese Basil for our tomatillos. This evening I made a batch of fresh pesto to ensure not a single leaf went to waste. Tonight’s batch was destined to be preserved in the freezer.
After posting some pictures on Instagram I figured I would share the recipe. Making pesto is really easy and the recipe can be followed loosely and/or modified to your liking. Sometimes I use pine nuts, other times walnuts. Sometimes I use no nuts at all. Just don’t use donuts!
Anyway, here is a basic basil pesto recipe to get your started. Once finished you can freeze in ice-cube trays. I like the silicone kind because they allow for easy removal of the finished product. Plus, silicone ice-cube molds often have fun shapes. The one in the picture has sunshine smiley faces 🙂
Always wash your basil really well before using and never use the stems. It takes more time, but using just the leaves is a must.
– 4 cups of basil leaves (pack them into the measuring cup)
– 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts – I prefer to lightly toast mine. Just never let them get too dark or burnt. The flavor will ruin your pesto
– 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano grated cheese
– 3 garlic cloves (more if you are trying to keep vampires away)
– 1/4 cups good quality extra virgin olive oil
– teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
– teaspoon lemon zest
– salt to taste (sometimes a few red pepper flakes if I am feeling naughty)
Step by Step
I do not blanche my basil if the leaves are tender. However, many recipes call for blanching of the leaves before processing. I rarely have the time to mess with the ice baths and all that. So, this is the no blanching recipe. I will say blanching the leaves can yield better results in most cases. You decide!
Stick the 4 cups of packed basil leaves, garlic cloves, nuts of your choice, cheese and lemon zest into the food processor. Turn on the processor and then stream in the oil and teaspoon of lemon juice. Process until smooth and add a bit of salt if you like. I use very little salt in my cooking.
A small spatula works great to get every last drop of the pesto into your ice cube trays. Pop the tray or mold into the freezer and once frozen transfer the cubes into a sealed container for longer-term freezing. Do not leave the cubes uncovered because they will pick up unwanted flavors from your foods.