Our initial reason for gardening, before we even owned our own home, was to make pesto. We had always enjoyed pesto, and at the time with Ole in graduate school, buying the often expensive jar of it at the supermarket wasn’t something we were willing to do. And the “pesto pot” was born. The pesto pot is nothing more than a pot planted with Genovese basil and flat-leaf parsley. If you don’t have basil and parsley already growing in your garden, fear not. Parsley is cheap and easy to come by fresh. Basil is also available fresh in the grocery store; however, it may cost you a bit more. Try checking out your local farmer’s market. We have a vendor at ours that sells 2 cups of packed basil for $2.00, quite the bargain price.
The other thing that drives up the price of pesto are the pine nuts. We buy ours at Trader Joe’s or from a co-op; both are the cheapest prices we’ve been able to find. If you can’t find reasonably priced pine nuts, try substituting walnuts.
I pack my leaves on the bottom of the food processor or blender and top it off with all the heavier ingredients (hold the olive oil for now). This helps to weigh down the leaves and feed them towards the blade.
After a good mix and chop, I add half of the olive oil and blend again. The last half of the olive oil won’t be added until I’m ready to use each individual serving of pesto, and sometimes not at all.
Because we went light on the olive oil, this pesto is easy to work with. It doesn’t pour well into containers, but it will scoop onto sheets of plastic wrap or into tightly-sealed containers. If using a container, make sure you fill to the top to avoid freezer burn. For the plastic wrap, just pull the corners together and twist. Fold the end under the pesto ball and you’re done.
Into the freezer bag and into the freezer for these. When I am ready to use, I remove from the freezer an hour or two before and thaw in a bowl on the counter. Just before serving, I stir in the extra olive oil I left out, reviving the pesto and making it instantly easy to work with and use.
What to do with the pesto? Try mixing it into a pasta.
Or make pesto cheese bread for a twist on traditional garlic cheese bread.
You could also mix with a bit of butter, spread on salmon and bake in the oven. Mix it into steamed vegetables or even top a steak with it. Whatever you do, enjoy it. And because you froze it, you can enjoy a bit of summer freshness in the dead of winter on those really, really cold days when the sky is gray.
|Fresh Garden Pesto on Your Plate and in Your Freezer adapted from Niki|
2 cups packed fresh basil
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, sans sprigs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Place all ingredients except for the olive oil into a food processor or blender, basil and parsley leaves first. Pulse until well blended and all large chunks are broken down. Pour 1/4 olive oil into the mix and blend until it starts to look smooth. Freeze in portion-sized amounts. When ready to use (or if using immediately), mix in the final 1/4 cup of olive oil. Serve over pasta, on bread, in vegetables or over seafood or grilled meats.
Makes 3-4 family-sized servings.