Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pesto

My aunt asked for my freezer pesto recipe last week, and I was surprised that I had not blogged about it yet, it’s one of the things that is a staple at my house, generally as pizza sauce.

If you have basil in your garden, now is a good time to harvest large quantities, as the weather starts to cool, the basil plants seem to get tired.  I have a couple of basil plants in my garden which although have been quite healthy (and good tasting) have stayed fairly small, I might try to find some basil at the farmers market this weekend. 

I start by picking off the leaves, then rinsing (and if they are especially dirty, putting into a sink full of water), then spinning dry in my salad spinner.  I lay out on towels try dry a bit more.   From there, you can either make freezer pesto or full pesto, both recipes follow. And this freezing method works for most any herb. I have done both parsley and cilantro (without the garlic). They stay quite bright green and tasty.

Freezer Pesto:

2 - 4 cloves of garlic
Enough fresh basil leaves to fill food processor bowl, washed and patted dry 
Or about 2 cups packed fairly tightly
½ cup olive oil

Turn on food processor fitted with blade and drop the garlic through the feed bowl.  Let process until most of it is stuck to the sides. Scrape down, add the basil.  Process w/ pulse on/off until basil is chopped.

Turn the motor on, and add olive oil in a slow, steady stream.  

Immediately (so that it does not get dark) put the mixture in a 1 quart freezer bag. Press out the air and seal.  Then draw into quarters, and fold the bag to keep separate.  Alternately, put mixture into a container and press plastic wrap onto surface.  Freeze until ready to use.

Pesto: The full fledged recipe.
Makes 2 cups.

4 oz. Parmesan cheese (can use part Romano)
3 - 4 cloves of garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry (packed fairly tightly)
½ to 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts 
~ 3/4 cup olive oil 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut the cheese into chunks, and process with blade in food processor until finely grated.  Pour out of food processor and set aside.

Put bowl with blade back on base (don’t need to clean the bowl), turn on and drop the garlic through the feed bowl.  Let process until most of it is stuck to the sides.  Scrape down; add the basil and nuts.  Process w/ pulse on/off until basil is chopped.

Turn the motor on, and add olive oil in a slow, steady stream.  

Shut the motor off; add the cheese, a big pinch of salt and a liberal grinding of pepper. Process briefly to combine, the scrap out into a bowl and cover until ready to use (press a piece of plastic wrap right onto the surface to keep from turning dark.  Will keep for several days. 

How to use: 

Pasta with Pesto:   Cook 1 lb. of Linguine.  Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons pasta water, ¼ cup cream (or milk or greek yogurt), and 1 cup pesto in large bowl.  Drain pasta, return to bowl and toss (add a bit more pasta water if its too thick), add a good grind of pepper. Sometimes I make the pesto without any nuts, and serve this with toasted pine nuts on top.  

Rice with Pesto:  Add a big spoon full of pesto to cooked rice. 

Pesto bread: Spread pesto on slices of French bread, broil/toast until bubbly.

What to do with freezer pesto:
Thaw, mix with cheese, etc. to get full pesto.
Throw a frozen chunk into a batch of spaghetti sauce.
Thaw, mix with a can of tomato sauce and use for pizza sauce.
Thaw, mix with a little more olive oil and use for pizza sauce
Throw a frozen chunk into rice that’s almost done, finish with a bit of grated cheese.
Throw a frozen chunk to a big pot of soup that’s almost done.

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