09/26/13

Summertime flavors through fall and winter

At the beginning of the summer, I shared with you that we had planted a herb garden. I was unprepared for the success of this sweet little garden addition. With the unseasonably and uncharacteristic amount of rainfall we got this summer, my herbs were on over-drive. I couldn’t clip and use them fast enough.

Always a good problem to have.

I mean look at this Basil!

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Glorious! Love piling those leaves high in a big bowl and bringing them inside.

So, as fall dawns and the temperatures are cooler, I wanted to conserve as much of that sweet summertime flavor as I could in the sweet form of Basil Pesto. Freeze it for the fall and winter!

Let me show you how I did it…

Basil Pesto Recipe

{I use Ina Garten’s recipe for Basic Pesto with a few tweaks of my own! Original recipe can be found here.}

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup loosely packed freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Pluck that gorgeous basil plant! (not sure pluck is the proper terminology here, but we will go with it). Separate all the leaves, wash, and leave them to dry thoroughly.

leaves in bowl 1

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Basil can bruise very easily, so be gentle being careful not to tear.

2. Place 6 cups of the leaves in a food processor and process a bit. This may need to be done in a few batches unless you have a great, big food processor. If so, kudos! 🙂

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After they have processed a bit, add in your toasted nuts, your seasonings, your crushed and peeled garlic cloves, and process until everything is thoroughly combined.

I love crushing garlic… get out all those frustrations!

‘Ellie should not have pushed me off those monkey bars in the 3rd grade!’ WHAM! That felt good…

garlic crushed

processed 2

3. With the machine running, stream in the 1 cup of olive oil slowly until the entire mixture comes together in a glorious paste.

processed 3

Lovely.

Can pesto be lovely? Why not?

Add the 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and pulse until cheese in incorporated.

cheese

I fresh grate my parmesan cheese right off a big hunk with a microplane for easy-to-process cheesy goodness. {Just try not to snack too much}

Throw it in and process until combined.

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And it’s done!

all finished!

Now, it’s perfect in this form. If you plan on using it immediately, store in the fridge, but if you do not have reason to use 2 cups of pesto sauce, I suggest the freezing method.

Pesto surprisingly freezes very, very well. You can freeze in ice cube trays or in mini muffin tins. Everyone has one of these pieces of hardware in their kitchen.

ready to pour

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in the freezer

Just pour up to the lip of the muffin tins, cover with loose-fitting plastic wrap, and freeze on a level shelf of your freezer until firm. Then remove from freezer, allow to warm slightly on the counter, loosen the pesto cups, and individually wrap the frozen pesto discs and place in a large resealable bag until you need them.

Uses for Pesto:

  • There are many uses for a basic Basil Pesto. Of course, it is delicious over pasta as a no-cook, simple sauce. Add chicken or shrimp and toss with broccoli, peppers, or any other vegetables for a complete meal.
  • Roast some potatoes in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then toss with a little basil pesto for a delicious warm potato salad alongside grilled meats or fish.
  • Use as a sauce over a grilled steak or grilled breast of chicken. So simple and delicious!
  • Pour overtop a nice big chunk of cheese (goat cheese would be lovely) and serve along side some crackers for a simple, quick appetizer at a dinner party
  • Top a vegetable, noodle, or bean soup with a little dollop of pesto. Stir it right in! Delicious combination of herbs and cheesiness is delicious stirred into a broth or pureed soup.
  • Use as a pizza sauce instead of marinara. It’s delicious with torn slices of proscuitto, fresh mozzarella, and toasted pine nuts. Or how about just a few types of cheeses? Yes please!
  • Slice some tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella cheese, and top with a heavy drizzle of pesto for a quick and easy Caprese salad. I saw this glorious dish all over Italy and people were crazy about it!

 I hope you enjoy summer flavors well into fall and into winter as well. How sweet it is!

 

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  1. Pingback: My Favorite Spring & Summer Recipes | A Still Magnolia

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