How To Make and Freeze Your Own Pesto Sauce
Oh Glorious Basil!
Few things say "summer" like the pungent aroma of fresh basil.
Let's face it -- when your basil starts coming in from your garden, you're loaded down with it.
Making pesto to put up in the freezer is a wonderful way to preserve all that goodness, and it's incredibly economical. I know some people who don't have gardens, but when they see basil start appearing in the grocery store (and priced inexpensively) they make pesto.
It's really easy to do.
The directions are below. The explanation of how to put up pesto in your freezer is further down.
Ingredients for Pesto
Pesto is so easy to make. This recipe can be scaled up (if you have lots of basil) or cut in half.
4 cups fresh basil
one clove garlic (okay, if you really love garlic, add more!)
the juice from half of a lemon (this helps to prevent the darkening that will occur if you put it into the freezer)
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted (pine nuts are more traditional, but walnuts are lower in fat and taste better)
one cup of grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan -- I prefer the saltiness of Romano)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
How To Make Pesto
Put the walnuts into a dry skillet and put onto medium heat. Turn them with a spatula every few minutes until they're fragrant and toasted. This only takes a few minutes.
Do you have to toast the walnuts? Well, I've tried both -- toasted and untoasted. And I can really taste a difference if they're toasted! The flavor of the pesto is richer, and I like the texture better, too.
Into either a food processor, pour in your walnuts and garlic. Pulse for about 20 seconds, then put in your basil. Pulse several times, then use your spatula to push the leaves down toward the blades.
Add in the water, then squeeze in the half of a lemon (through a sieve to keep out the seeds) then the olive oil, then process until thoroughly blended. You'll have to stop a few times to push the unprocessed leaves down toward the blades.
Add in the cheese, salt and pepper then process for about 45 seconds.
Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Don't forget that Parmesan or Romano cheese is salty, so you probably won't need that much salt. But DO taste for salt! The pesto will be bland if you don't add enough salt.
The pesto looks like this in your food processor
How To Put Up Pesto In Your Freezer
It couldn't be any easier.
Once you've made pesto, spoon it into ice cube trays and put into the freezer.
After they've frozen solid, empty them into a gallon freezer bag labeled with the date and the source of the basil. I do this because sometimes my friends bring me basil, and sometimes I use my own from the garden. I like to know which is which when I'm serving it.
The pesto will keep for about 9 months. Keep in mind that the pesto will darken somewhat in the freezer, but it will still look good, and of course taste fantastic.
I love the ease of being able to take out a few cubes of frozen pesto, defrost them in a Pyrex cup in the microwave, then pour it onto freshly boiled pasta. The recipe is below.