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Monday, November 9, 2015

Basil Pesto

Basil is one of my favorite things about summer--it means sunshine and being outside in the garden, smelling my back porch herbs on the way out the back door. Pesto is a great way to preserve basil for enjoying in the winter; I usually eat it with pasta, but you can also use it as a sauce for fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Thanks to the generosity of a friend who planted large basil patches this year, I recently made and froze three pints of pesto. Three pints! That will evoke summer for quite some time.

Here's what my mom has to say about basil: "I don't know if anyone younger than 40 realizes just how rare pesto or basil were in the American diet until the 80s and 90s. I never saw a fresh basil leaf, let alone a plant, as a child. I only knew of dried basil. When we visited the states from Bahrain I became aware that Grandpa Hayes grew lots of herbs in his St. George garden. Shortly after we arrived back in Virginia in 1991, I took a library class on herbs and started to grow herbs every year. I can hardly imagine how boring our food was before we had fresh herbs all the time."




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Basil Pesto


1 c basil leaves
1/4 c olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, depending on size
1 T pine nuts or almonds
5 T Parmesan cheese, shredded
1-2 T melted butter (optional)

A good blender makes a difference here. Blend the basil and oil into a paste. Add garlic and nuts, then blend until smooth.

If using immediately, add cheese and butter and blend again.

If freezing, leave out the cheese and butter and stir it in when you are about to serve. You may have to estimate just how much to add since you'll only use a portion, but it won't hurt if you get too much of either ingredient.

Notes on freezing containers: We have frozen pesto in a number of containers, including ice cube trays, glass jars, and plastic bags. Bags are our favorite, because it's easy to break off the needed amount of pesto. Ice cube trays are a pain for a couple of reasons: the pesto cubes are hard to remove from the tray, and also one pesto cube is rarely enough. Jars work, but it's hard to remove the amount of pesto you need without defrosting the jar. So bags are best. Lay flat to freeze, and break off what you need.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Betsy. I've never made Pesto, but both my girls do. I'm proud of them! :)

    ReplyDelete