Sunday, September 1, 2013

Amazing Easy Basil Pesto

I can't help it, I feel a need to grow basil in my garden every year. I do this every year with the intention of "Oh, yes, I shall use it in my cooking," and of course I *do* use it in my cooking, but then I also end up with WAAAAAYYYYY too much basil, because you can only feed your family so much of it before they're all "Um, maybe some other flavor would be nice?"

The whole problem would be resolved if I just put in one basil plant, but I can't do that, because one basil plant would be lonely. So I always put them in either pairs, so they have a friend, or threes, because I like things in threes. Thus, WAY TOO MUCH BASIL.

So, what do you do when you have WTMB syndrome in the garden? You make pesto. You make a lot of it. And because pesto is amazing, you can totally freeze it and use it later, so even when your family is going, "Sadface, no more pesto because it's February!" you can pull a glob of it out of the freezer and be a total pesto hero.


10 - 12 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 C olive oil
4 - 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tbs. lemon juice
A pinch of salt
Pine nuts (optional)

Short version: throw everything in your food processor and chop it until it's done.

Long version: It's hard to stuff twelve cups of basil into your food processor - believe me, I've tried, and even my trusty Ninja Chopper starts to get a little bitchy when I try to do it all at once. So the trick, at least for me, is to put about HALF the basil into the food processor, along with about half the olive oil and Parmesan, and all of the garlic and lemon juice and salt. Mix that part of it up until it's good and choppy looking, and then add the rest of the basil, Parm, and oil. Chop it until the basil is really well chunked up, and the whole thing looks grainy but even.

Pesto is kind of amazing, because you can put it on ANYTHING. Use it as a veggie dip or pasta topping, smear it on crackers, or just eat it with a spoon. My favorite thing to do with it, though, is to mix a tablespoon of pesto with a tablespoon of homemade mayo, and glop it onto a burger or a piece of fish.

As far as storage, a batch of pesto - and the above recipe will give you about a cup and a half to two cups of pesto - will last a couple of weeks in the fridge. It will darken as it's exposed to oxygen, but a quick stir will revive the bright green color. To freeze it, spoon a bit into the compartments of an ice cube tray, stick it in the freezer, and once they're good and solid, store them in a freezer-safe bag or container.

Dig in, make a batch, and never again listen to your family complain about how much basil you're feeding them!

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