|ESTIMATED CALORIC INFO|
|Serving Size||2 ounces|
|Calories from Protein||5%|
|Calories from Fat||75%|
|Calories from Carbs||20%|
One of my best performing plants all summer long was my Genovese basil. I had several containers that I had been growing it in with various tomato plants – it was in with the Green Zebras, the Early Girls, pretty much any tomato plant pot I could fit it in. I did this because it’s generally believed that planting basil within a foot or two from tomato plants will improve the flavor of the plants as well as drive off insects.
Well, having only grown these plants for the first time this year, I can’t speak to any effect on flavor from the proximity of the basil. And as far as insects go, it certainly didn’t do too much to ward off the hornworms, but apart from them I really had no issue.
And for the most part, the basil grew like mad. I couldn’t keep up with it. By this point in the summer, the stalks have started to resemble tree trunks.
As the fall approaches and a chill occasions to enter the air, I decided I should do something to preserve the huge amounts of basil being produced instead of letting it go to waste.
And so, pesto.
Pesto is great because it’s so easy to make at home – only four ingredients or so – it freezes well, and it can be used in countless dishes.
In this post I’ll go over a simple recipe for some homemade basil, and show an easy method for preserving it all through the winter.
This recipe calls for olive oil, you want to use some quality stuff here because – like making mayonnaise, it’s a prime ingredient of the recipe and the flavor will show through.
You also need a food processor for this. It’s not really avoidable. You could maybe make it in a blender, but you will need to grind up nuts – pine nuts or walnuts – and that’s a little tough without a processor. Theoretically you could do it with a mortar and pestle if you were dedicated, but again, go with the food processor here.
|ESTIMATED FOOD MILES|
|Olive Oil||200 miles|
|Parmesan Cheese||150 miles|
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: None
- 4 cups basil leaves
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup walnuts (pine nuts are the traditional option, I like using walnuts myself)
- 4-5 medium size cloves of garlic
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
If you are planning on freezing this batch, leave the cheese out and add it when you are serving the pesto. It won’t freeze very well and you might get a bit of an off flavor from it.
You can easily double or halve this recipe, depending on what quantity of basil you’ve got on your hands.
1. Pick and wash basil leaves.
2. Pulse walnuts or pine nuts in food processor until well ground.
3. Add basil leaves and process in processor.
4. Mince garlic cloves and slowly add to processor while running.
5. Gradually pour olive oil in while processor is running, and salt and pepper to taste.
(6). Add cheese, if not freezing for storage.
To freeze and store, layer some plastic wrap into an ice tray and fill it up then cover with plastic. This will give you little serving size frozen pesto pieces, which you can heat and add cheese to when you are ready to serve. Alternatively, you can just freeze the whole thing in a big bag, but it is a little more unwieldy to deal with when serving if you go that way.
Not a particularly appetizing color, I admit.
As I mentioned, there are countless uses for pesto – you can use it with pasta, grilled chicken, chicken sandwiches, roasted or grilled vegetables, fresh cheese, warm breads, and lots more.
When I made this batch, I froze one and made another for some fresh mozzarella and tomatoes from the garden. Very simple, very delicious.