Thursday, October 15, 2009

Making Basil Pesto from Scratch

So I think I missed my calling as a basil farmer. Please see, me covered in basil, below:

Brett said, "Oh, while you aren't working, why don't you harvest some of our basil and freeze some pesto for us." WELL I DID!

Basil Pesto Recipe Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or other hard italian cheese such as asiago)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp of each)
*toasted pine nuts--I don't add these in if I am freezing the pesto, only if eating right away*

1. Pulse basil leaves in food processor until minced
2. Add olive oil and pulse until well-mixed
3. Add cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper.
4. Run food processor until very well mixed and texture is like a loose paste
5. If eating immediately, toast pine nuts until golden brown and mix into paste by hand. If freezing, leave this step until you are going to eat the pesto
6. If freezing, spoon pesto into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins and freeze.
7. Once frozen, remove from small containers into large freezer safe bags for ease of storage
8. When ready to thaw, remove desired amount from freezer and sit near a hot burner or on the oven while it heats.

I know its mid-October, but no one told our basil plants--they are still going strong, and--no joke--were taller than me before I took my scissors to them!

Above are the ingredients you need to make your own pesto: olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and most importantly basil leaves! ALSO, not necessarily an ingredient but just as important is a food processor. Unless you have totally badass knife skills, infinite patience, and a few days to chop.

This is a picture of the basil leaves I took off of the plants I collected in the first photograph. I spent HOURS pulling the leaves off those suckers, and the stems and flowers made their way to the compost pile.

Load some leaves into the food processor, PUT THE LID ON,

And hit the pulse button as many times as necessary to get the leaves chopped up into small pieces like in the photo below, then add the olive oil.
Below is a photo of the cheese added to the mixture of basil and oil.

I went a little overboard and made about THREE QUARTS of pesto--but I didn't want all that beautiful basil to go to waste. And like my mom says, "you will really love the summery smell of the fresh basil when its a dark and blustery winter night." well put!

I had some assistance from Brett when he came home from work, scooping the pesto into my mini muffin tins for freezing.

Finally, here is a photo of the pesto incorporated into pasta and fresh vegetables:

Bon Appetit!

It is also delicious on slices of french bread as part of a bruschetta, on a white pizza with mozerella and toppings, and mixed into cream cheese as a spread. Does anyone have any really great creative uses for pesto?? Please share!

1 comment:

Jenny said...

dude, your basil is the opposite of ours, which refused to do much this year. and has definitely called it a season at this point. no pesto for me out of that plant. i'll need to borrow some of your green thumb next year.