If you read my previous post on Homemade Tomato Sauce and Meatballs, I mentioned that I wasn’t always a fan of basil. I’m not sure if I acquired a taste for it, or I had tried it in another dish and became addicted. Either way, basil is now my second favorite herb, next to coriander.
I’ve always wanted to make homemade pesto, but I could never find basil in bulk. Most supermarkets sell a small package for $1.99, but I needed tons of basil!
I received a basil plant from a good friend of mine, even after I told her the poor plant wouldn’t last. I do not have a green thumb! I took care of the plant as best as I could, but it succumbed. So sad …
I happened upon a huge bunch of basil while shopping at St. Lawrence Market and could not believe my eyes! I’ve never seen such a large amount for only $1.99! I quickly grabbed 2 packages and booted it to the nearest Costco to buy a bag of (very pricey) pine nuts!
Now, what to do with all this pesto? I read that it’s preferable to freeze pesto without the cheese, but I thought, that doesn’t make sense to me, I want it ready to go! I also read that there wasn’t much difference in taste, so I decided to just freeze it with the cheese.
You can freeze pesto in ice-cube trays, but we love our pesto in large amounts, so I came up with an even better idea! I used grease-proof cupcake liners with a muffin tin and scooped the pesto with an ice cream scooper. I froze the batch for 1 hour, and then stored them in Ziploc freezer bags! Brilliant (just saying)!
You can do so much with pesto (other than pasta). It tastes great on top of a steak, in sandwiches, on pizza, chicken, fish, baked potatoes, etc. We even like to make a very quick salad with cherry tomatoes mixed with a bit of pesto.
Fresh Basil Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com
Makes 1 cup
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a food processor, combine the basil and pine nuts, pulse a few times
- Add the garlic and cheese and pulse a few times more
- Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on
- Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula
- Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- I like to toast the pine nuts lightly. Let them cool before using