One of the joys of gardening is cooking with plants from the garden. I’ve just spent the last couple of years tweaking my garden prowess in a different climate than I was used to. Different to say the least, but often filled with delightful surprises. One of these is the ease in which I can grow basil. I grew it before, but my warmer climate now has it growing into a shrub! Which brings me to one of my favorite recipes from the garden – and it’s super easy too.
Anyone who is a bit of a gourmand has probably bought pesto before and, until fairly recently, it was a bit on the pricey side. To that end, I’ve always grown basil with varying degrees of success. I’ve always been able to harvest basil to use but not really enough to make a batch of pesto…until now.
Making Homemade Pesto from Basil
Last summer was actually a bit short due to early snowfall in our region but, nonetheless, my basil thrived. When winter’s early arrival seemed imminent, I harvested the entire plant and made a batch of pesto for the freezer.
There isn’t much to making pesto, but boy is it tasty. It can be used to toss pasta in, veggies, smeared on bread or used as a condiment. It is absolutely sublime with grilled salmon, or try that grilled salmon on a ciabatta roll with pepper bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and garlicky aioli!
To make 2 cups of homemade pesto, you will need:
2 cups of fresh basil2 large garlic cloves½ cup olive oil½ cup grated parmesan cheeseUsually, pesto contains pine nuts, but if you don’t want them, you can use walnuts or even omit the nuts altogether. If adding nuts, you will need 2 tablespoons.
In a food processer, process the basil, nuts (if using) and garlic. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Add the parmesan and process or pulse briefly. That’s it!
You can also tweak the pesto by using Romano or asiago cheese instead of parmesan and can even add sun dried tomatoes for a bit of a twist.
Use the pesto immediately or refrigerate or freeze. Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays and then once frozen, pop them into a zip-loc bag and refreeze. This makes them easier to use without having to thaw an entire container.
Needless to say, I ended up making much more than two cups and froze it as above. It kept us in pesto the entire winter. I also processed some of the basil with a little olive oil and froze this into cubes as well. The frozen basil cubes found their way into a variety of winter soups and other dishes.
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