Basil Pesto

Growing Italian Basil

Growing Italian Basil

It is the end of Summer here in Seattle, but I want to savor Summer things all the rest of the year. I am not usually a frozen foods person, but I also hate store-bought pesto.

The solution? Basil Pesto. This time every year, I make and freeze my own pesto. You can get incredible, fresh basil from Seattle Farmers’ markets, and I recently bought two big bunches. Chances are good you’ll find some near you, too, and get it as fresh as you can. Last year, I even bought my own basil plants and kept them growing until I was ready. This is how I create my almost-year-long Basil Pesto.

Ingredients for homemade Basil Pesto

Ingredients for homemade Basil Pesto

I used:

  • 2 big bunches of fresh farmers’ market basil – leaves picked, washed & dried.
  • 6 cloves of garlic (we love lots, you can use less if you like)
  • 1 big handful of lightly toasted pine nuts (I have also used walnuts, almonds, or pistachios)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper and salt

Missing now, (optional) to add later when using:
1 tbsn lime juice & zest of one lime
freshly grated parmesan cheese, skip for vegan version, add more nuts!

My method:
Put your basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt & pepper in a food processor & pulse for ten seconds (almost purée). Add the extra virgin olive oil while pulsing more, until all the ingredients are combined into a nice, thick, classic pesto consistency.

Put it all in a small freezer bag, seal the bag, and flatten it out. With a permanent marker, label it with your manufacturing date, so you know not to keep it too long!

Alternately, you can fill up an ice cube tray, and make little cubes. Once they freeze, transfer them from the ice cube tray to a labeled, air tight bag or container. Cubes are convenient, but it’s easy to forget to transfer them, and I like to get it done in one shot with the bag.

My Basil Pesto never lasts the whole year, and neither do I want it to 🙂 but because I skip the cheese, I can keep it for pretty long in the freezer.

When I am ready to eat some pesto, I cut out a piece to thaw and first add some extra virgin olive oil. Then I add my missing ingredients. The lime adds a zing, prevents oxidation, and along with parmesan it puts the creaminess in the basil pesto, making it taste freshly made.

We really love pesto, and this allows us to eat it almost fresh for much longer than basil season. We eat it many different ways – with pasta, on sandwiches, on pizza, on crostini, tomatoes, and more!

p.s. My favorite wine to pair with pesto is a semi-dry to dry riesling. While not Italian, it’s usually a perfect match, give it a try!