Sunday, September 12, 2010

Basil Pesto for Freezing

"If I had to choose just one plant for the whole herb garden, I should be content with basil." -Elizabeth David, Italian Food

Basil is one thing my husband always grows in the garden, and now is the time to make pesto for freezing while the plants are a profusion of basil leaves -and before the cold comes and turns the leaves black overnight. The bees love the flowers, and while picking the leaves their hum and the scent is overwhelming. Making and freezing pesto captures basil's inimitable flavor and aroma to enjoy all year long. I pick about 5 quarts of leaves when making pesto to freeze.

I like to add a tiny bit of rosemary to my pesto. It's not crucial but I think it adds something special.

I also like to use a fair amount of garlic when making pesto. It was a good year in our garden for growing garlic and it makes me happy to know I can use it as liberally as I want.

Basil Pesto (for freezing or to make about a pint)
8 cloves garlic (or more)
1 t. salt
2 t. fresh picked rosemary leaves, minced
1/4 - 1/3 c. pine nuts
5 quarts fresh picked basil leaves (or as much as will fit in your processor)
3/4 c. or more olive oil, pour over layers of basil while adding and processing
In food processor add garlic, salt and rosemary leaves plus basil to fill processor bowl and some olive oil. Process. Keep layering and processing, and it will all eventually fit. Add pine nuts when half of the basil is processed. Add more olive oil if it seems to need it.

I then freeze the basil pesto in 1/2 c. containers. It defrosts quickly and can be stored in the fridge for several weeks.

By adding a bit of pesto -with or without the addition of grated Parmesan- simple meals of plain pasta and one or more vegetables or fresh tomatoes (during their brief season), can be transformed from mundane into extraordinary. Spending a few hours now making basil pesto will provide us with it all year long. And the kitchen smells so amazing while I'm making it!

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