Found: A use for all that basil…

Hello, my name is Laura, and I love pesto –

Hi Laura…

It’s true, I really do! As I made a list last year of what I missed in my garden, basil was the herb at the top of the list. I did receive the gift of basil from a friend, but ALMOST ran out of basil pesto, which was almost tragic! Not this year – I just made my second batch of pesto today, in a jiff!, and it reminded me that other might be thinking, “What should I do with allllll this basil?!”

The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind – the answer is here: make pesto!

Pesto just means, ‘pulverized sauce’, in basic terms – so though we commonly think of basil pesto when we think of pesto, pesto can be made out of many things – tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, etc —

But today, I’ll tell you about basil pesto. Referring to my favorite cookbook (“Simply In Season, we know, we know!” the regular followers of my blog are all thinking!), pesto is “a very forgiving recipe”, and I would quite agree.

Here’s how I make mine:

1 – fill up my food processor (I have a 4 c. bowl) with basil leaves, and, as long as they aren’t excessive, some stems won’t hurt the process either, and will save you time and brown fingernails from picking all the leaves off one by one (which I sometimes do, but sometimes don’t – it really depends on how much time I have)

2- add 1/4 cup of nuts – pine nuts are traditional, but are a little too rich for my blood. I’ve used walnuts, soynuts, and sunflower seeds (all raw, unsalted, un-anything-ed).

3 – Add a glug of olive oil – about a 1/4 C. Add a half tsp. salt, then as you go, see if its is salty enough for you. I like to add garlic as well (fresh is best – 1/2 to a full clove, or even more, to taste) and some add Parmesan cheese right away, too (since I freeze mine, I do not add the fresh grated Parmesan at this point).

4. Process, scrape down sides, judge if you need more oil, process, scrape down sides, repeat.

Put in a jar, and then add some additional olive oil on top, letting it filter through any ‘holes’ in your pesto. Use a butter knife to get out the air pockets, and make sure the top is covered with oil to avoid getting brown and gross-looking.

I make a few jars at a time, and keep one in the fridge, and freeze the rest!

And what do I use it for? Throw over veggies, toss with pasta, spread over chicken or fish, make pesto french fries, put in mayo and use on a sandwich – and I bet there are plenty more uses out there, too!

This really takes only 15 or so minutes, and is a great way to preserve a bounty of basil – Enjoy!

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8 thoughts on “Found: A use for all that basil…

  1. I love the instruction to add a “glug” of olive oil. I know exactly what you mean, too–the pouring of the bottle makes a familiar and funny “glug” sound. Awesome! I can almost taste the pesto just from your pictures and descriptions. Nicely written!

    • Laura says:

      Why, thank you! Re-reading the post to look for ‘glug’ has made me hungry for pesto – I think I’ll be making pesto fries for lunch (with a sprinkle of pizza cheese on top!)

  2. Trish Hoff says:

    Great post, Laura!! Thanks! You saved me from hunting up directions for making pesto.

  3. Suzanne says:

    I also chop up my extra basil and freeze it. Frozen basil tastes much better than the dried stuff. This way I can use it all winter!

    • Laura says:

      Yes, I agree – frozen is preferred over dried. I have sometimes chopped it up, added 2 Tbl. to an empty ice tray, with about 1 tbl. of water, and frozen them that way – then I can pop a ‘block’ into soups, etc. Our CSA recommends putting the leaves whole into a freezer bag, putting oil in the bag, and then rubbing the oil over the leaves before freezing – I’ve never tried it that way, so I’ll have to see how it works. I’m curious if it is any better than just putting the whole leaves in a freezer bag without oil….

  4. Matthew I says:

    I have to admit, the title of this one had me confused at first. I was thinking, “Who has spare basil?” But that was because I already know about pesto. It didn’t occur to me that there might be people out there deprived of this knowledge, for whom this post is an essential public service!

    • Laura says:

      Matthew I: essential public service – I love it! Gives a meaning to my humble postings – thank you! Hey, I just tried making some pesto with grapeseed oil – that was a new experiment. I’d be interested to know any pesto-experiments you’ve attempted as well!

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