I love pesto and eat it regularly. Instant pesto is easy and convenient to make, however the cost of buying the instant packets can add up. Usually in the summer I make an effort to make my own fresh pesto to freeze for the remainder of the year.
A few weeks ago Emi and I visited my grandparents and during our visit they gave us a whole bag of fresh basil. With fresh, organic basil running about $3-5 for a small package this was a great deal for the price of free!
Emi and I love basil and have even grown a little of our own in our backyard, but we go through it so quickly that we never have enough to make pesto. We add basil to everything from fresh mozzarella, to pizza, and pastas. It’s really easy to grow and adds great flavor to anything you cook it with.
Nothing is better than fresh pesto especially when compared to the freeze dried, instant stuff and this is actually more economical as well.
The finished product
What you will need:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed, and packed
½ C freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or Romano cheese
½ C extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C pine nuts (you can buy them in bulk at Top Foods or in small packages at most grocery stores)
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Combine the basil with the pine nuts in the food processor, pulse a few times. Add the garlic and pulse a few times more.
- Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
This should make about 1 cup of pesto. I found this recipe on simplyrecipes.com. It was really easy to make, but a little messy. The website recommends that you do not add the cheese to the pesto if you plan on freezing it because the cheese does not freeze well. Instead add the Parmesan cheese once you've thawed out the pesto. The best way to store the pesto is by freezing it in an ice cube tray and then popping them out into a freezer Ziplock bag for storage.
Now what to do with the pesto? I posted two recipes in the comments section for anyone interested in trying out two of my favorites: Pesto Chicken Linguine and Pesto Oven Fried Chicken.