Thursday, August 11, 2011

Presto it's Pesto!


You may call this a cheap post, a cop out, the easy road, but today I am making basil pesto.  Yes, that's all.  Nobody will be eating at home tonight so I don't want to make a meal.  Besides, I love pesto and I have lots of basil in my garden.  I will make it and freeze it so I can use it anytime.  If you have bought pesto in the store you know it is expensive.  HEB had a 10oz jar on the shelf for $6.49. I will make 16 ounces today for much less and use some of it in tomorrow night's dinner.

Of course to make it for less I grow my own basil.  To buy enough for this recipe would be impractical. Basil seeds can be scattered in your landscaping or pots or a garden of their own.  It's hard to kill and when it goes to seed this year will make dozens next year.  I started with 4 plants from the nursery this year and had plenty for everything I wanted it for.

These seeds will fall off, blow in the wind, and be new plants next year.
First I harvested my basil.  The recipe calls for 3 cups of packed leaves with no stems.

My 4 basil plants
Wash and dry the leaves, pick them off the stems and measure 3 cups.  Now gather your other ingredients.

3 Cups packed basil
6 cloves of garlic (adjust for your own taste)
1/2 Cup pine nuts or walnuts (I used walnuts because they are much cheaper.  I'll try almonds next time.)
1 Cup olive oil
2/3 Cup parmesan cheese (I used the green jar stuff.  It gets ground to oblivion anyway and was free with one of those HEB meal deal specials.)

I put all the dry ingredients into my food processor.

After giving it a few good pulses to start the process, I slowly drizzled the olive oil into the mix.  When it was finished smoothing out (only about 15 seconds), I got my ice cube tray.  I use it to keep my earrings separate, but today it will freeze my pesto.

I lined the tray with plastic wrap and used my 1/8 measuring cup to fill the cubes.  If you don't have a 1/8 cup you can use 2 tablespoons which also equals 1 ounce.

All that is left to do is cover with more plastic wrap making sure it makes contact with the surface of the pesto.  This will help keep the basil from turning black.  Who likes black pesto?  Rhetorical.

After it is frozen I will pop out my cubes into a freezer bag, squeeze out the air and put back in the freezer.  Now I can have pesto for my recipes when ever I need it.

Some uses for pesto:

  • Great instead of red sauce on pizza
  • Serve on the side of a hunk of Italian Bread
  • Mix with you own cream sauce recipe and toss with pasta
  • Spread on Chicken before baking (stuff the chicken with Feta cheese first, yum.)
  • Whip into mashed potatoes
  • Spoon onto sliced tomatoes
  • Use as a marinade for shrimp, pork, or chicken (2 hours or overnight)
  • Mix with mayo for a BLT or Italian meat sandwich
  • Serve with Cream Cheese for a vegetable dip

Anybody else have an idea, may be something you are already doing with your pesto?

I read after making my pesto that some people blanch their basil for 15 seconds to "set" the green color and keep it from going black.  If I have a problem with my batch I will do this next time and let you know how it went.


Took a brave pill and have been working on Crackers on the side.  It's almost completely quilted.  I'll post pictures when I am finished.  Then I get to bind; arguably my favorite part.  I love hand work and will explain that in a later post.