Thursday, October 14, 2010

Farewell, basil -- hello, pesto, or, summer recycling: a recipe

Fresh summer veg really is the best, and there's nothing quite like walking outside to the garden to pick what I need for a meal.

But -- turn, turn, turn -- everything has a season and the summer garden has come to an end.

But not all endings are sad -- not when it means pesto!

And enough pesto to freeze for use throughout the winter! Whoot! Whoot!

There are bajillions of pesto recipes out there, so I am by no means suggesting this one is the best. It is simply the one I have adopted as my own, based on my favorite criteria: quick, easy and delicious. See if you don't agree.

Besides which, you don't end up as ginormous as James Beard because you make food that sucks. I'm just sayin'.

Classic Pesto (adapted from James Beard)

4 cups basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup parsley (this optional but I like to include it if I have it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 oz. olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Place basil, garlic, nuts, parsley and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Then add about half the oil and process. Add the remaining oil and continue to process until smooth. Add the cheese and process a few seconds longer (until well combined).

Note: After putting the pesto into containers, I put a little folded square of plastic wrap over the surface to keep it from browning. The browning doesn't affect the flavor at all so if you skip the plastic step, just stir the pesto before you use it to distribute the wicked green color.

Another note: This freezes really well!


  1. that sounds great; I've grown basil in the past but never manage to use even a tiny bit of it while it's fresh. I'll have to give it a shot again next year and whip up some of this.

    Assuming I remember when next year actually rolls around. Can you grow basil inside?

  2. Yep, you can grow it year-round inside!

  3. oooo, that's awesome news. If I have a little plant surely I won't get overwhelmed, then I can move it outdoors next summer.

  4. I actually store in in the freezer too- just put a tablespoon-ish size blob on a piece of plastic wrap and roll it up. A nice serving size, but a hard little nugget to deal with. When you want to use it just microwave on medium-low for about 30 seconds- 1 minute- enough to soften it up to unwrap. Thanks for the recipe Jules!

  5. Do you have instructions for how to freeze this? Like, what kind of container to use, etc. We already have a ton of basil, and it's only May!

  6. Kim -- no real instructions necessary. I usually freeze in small batches (about half a cup -- I love those little half-size canning jars, as shown in the photo b/c they are cute and freezer-safe!), because I only use a little at a time. I put a piece of plastic wrap over the surface to prevent it from getting brown, but that's it. Some people have cautioned against freezing it with the cheese already incorporated but I do it all the time with no issues.