Pesto: Make It, Freeze It

by Elizabeth on September 13, 2011 · 10 comments

in Growing Food, How Tos, pasta, recipes

Am I the only one with a garden full of basil?  I’m still getting tomatoes too.  Where is fall?  I’m thinking it’s lost.  Have you seen it?

I feel like a squirrel this year, storing nuts for the winter.  My freezer is full of tomato sauce, pesto, and ice cream.  I miss the taste of fresh basil so much in the winter that I am determined to make enough pesto to last me until next spring.  Well that, and that I can’t think of anything else to do with the massive amounts of basil growing in my yard.

Note to self: next year, plant one plant for one person. Not two.

Print this recipe!

2 cups fresh basil
1 cup flat leaf parsley
4 cloves of garlic, halved
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, blender, or mini chopper, finally chop the herbs and garlic.  Add in the nuts and give it a whirl.  Add lemon juice, water, salt and pepper, and pulse to combine.  Everything should be very finely chopped and well mixed by now.  Add in half the cheese and stream in some of the oil.  Blend well.  Add in the rest of the cheese and some more of the oil.  Blend and then look at the pesto.  If it’s smooth enough for you, you’re done.  Add in more olive oil  if you want a smoother consistency.  Taste it for seasonings, adjust with more olive oil, salt, and pepper, if desired.  The last stages of pesto are really all about preference.

*To toast pine nuts: place in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally.  The nuts are done when they begin to brown and smelly nutty.   Watch carefully!  Nuts burn very easily.

-Adapted from Tyler Florence

To serve pesto with pasta: Boil desired amount of pasta in well-salted water.  Drain pasta and reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Toss hot pasta with fresh pesto and enough liquid to make a nice sauce.  Serve with extra cheese and more fresh basil.

I added some steamed broccoli to up the nutritional value of a big bowl of pasta.

To freeze fresh pesto: Fill an ice cube tray evenly with pesto.  Freeze tray for 24 hours then pop cubes out and store in a plastic bag in the freezer.  Toss them into a hot pot whenever you want pesto or to add a nice basil flavor to whatever you are cooking.  I usually allow between 1-2 cubes of pesto per serving.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debra from Bungalow September 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

Hi Elizabeth,

This is the best way to keep pesto, I’ve used this method to freeze blocks of basil too.

Thanks for visiting my blog!


2 Elizabeth September 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

I think I’m going to freeze some plain basil cubes too. I’m sure it will be fine to put into soups and such this winter.


3 Debra from Bungalow September 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

oops, Hit send too soon……Thanks for sharing your recipe for pesto!


4 Cate September 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

We’re still getting a ton of tomatoes, too! I went outside yesterday and noticed some little jalapenos and bell peppers as well.


5 Elizabeth September 13, 2011 at 10:32 am

Glad it’s not just me! I’ve only got three new tomatoes, but I do have some flowers. Three of my five plants are almost dead (too dry and WAY too hot this summer), but I’m glad I got some good stuff!


6 Jen September 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I’m kinda glad for the extended growing season because our garden didn’t produce crap for the first 3 months. Although I do have a ton of basil and a no food processor since mine caught on fire. I must rectify that immediately because I want pesto!


7 Elizabeth September 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I planted late so I didn’t have that problem! 🙂 You can also make pesto in a blender, if you have one of those.


8 Molly September 14, 2011 at 8:15 am

This was me, too, last week. ~5 hours of picking and processing basil and lemon verbena. Next week: mint, tarragon, lavender, rosemary, other basil types. Our garden was very basil-heavy, though, so I think next week will go much faster.
Why, yes, our herbs DID do well this year. 😀 And our tomato plant has randomly decided it’s a perfect time to continue producing tomatoes. I just hope it stays warm enough in Chicago for them to ripen on the plant!


9 Cranberry Morning September 16, 2011 at 8:53 am

I’ve been making pesto and freezing it – for the first time – this summer. I’m hoping my basil plant will survive in the house over winter. I love using that stuff fresh!


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