This Basil Pesto recipe was shared by a chef at a local restaurant – we make a batch every summer and freeze it for winter!
The beginning of September is one my absolute favorite times of the year. A chill is beginning to creep into the night air. Apple trees are loaded with crisp apples. The Holiday Trifecta (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) is just around the corner. But September also means the beginning of the end for my garden. Indeed, just the other night I had to cover my eggplant and pepper plants because the temperature fell into the upper 30’s. (yes, it is a bit early for those kind of temperatures…even here in NY!) Every year at this time, I try to salvage every last bit of summer deliciousness from the garden. Last week, I froze a batch of this tasty Rustic Zucchini Stew. This week, I turned my attention to basil and made a huge batch of Basil Pesto.
Once the pesto is made, I divide it into ice cube trays and freeze it overnight. Then the next day I pop out the individual cubes and store these Pesto Bombs in the freezer in a large resealable bag. Why do I call them bombs, you ask? Well, come mid-Winter, I pull these Pesto Bombs out of the freezer for an instant kick of summer flavor. Need an easy dinner? Just cook a pot of pasta, throw it into a saute pan with 2-3 Pesto Bombs…Pesto Pasta in about 15 minutes! Need an easy way to boost the flavors in a homemade soup? Drop a couple Pesto Bombs in the pot. I’ve even defrosted a couple of these Pesto Bombs in the microwave and used them to make Pesto Paninis. (Check out this post for Mario Batalli’s delicious Mozzarella Pesto Panini recipe!)
As a heads up, this Basil Pesto uses a lot of basil. (How did you think it gets that delicious basil flavor??) I pulled about 5 full basil plants from my garden and made a triple batch of the recipe below. Yes, it did take a bit of time to pick all of the basil leaves off…but the effort was well worth it. (If you don’t happen to have extra basil in your garden right now, check out some local nurseries rather than the grocery store…I bet nurseries would be happy to sell their basil plants at a reduced price this time of the year!)
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 4½ cups basil leaves packed
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Place pine nuts on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 250°F for 12-15 minutes. (Note: pine nuts will burn easily, so keep a close watch on them. Once you can smell them, then they are probably done.)
- Meanwhile, wash the basil leaves and pat them dry.
- Once pine nuts are toasted, place all ingredients in a food processor and process until fully incorporated and smooth. (If mixture is too thick, add a small amount of additional olive oil.)
- Place the pesto into several ice cube trays. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- Remove the pesto cubes from the trays and store in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer until needed. (Note: use a small butter knife to help pop each of the basil cubes out of the tray.)