Food / The Basics

Perfect Pesto – a Simple Recipe and Storage Idea for Use All Year Long

Perfect Pesto

Pesto is a main staple in our repertoire.  I don’t just like it, I love the stuff!  I grow a full row of sweet basil in my garden for the sole purpose of filling my freezer with the perfect pesto to last me year round.  Did you realize you could freeze pesto?  Totally…and it’s easy!  It kills me to see people paying $5+ for a tiny tub of pesto when I can make over 9 CUPS of pesto out of a single harvest.  And, if you trim correctly you can have multiple harvests of basil per year.  This past year, after regular untamed use, I used my last bit of pesto in June!

This recipe is for a basic basil pesto.  The word pesto itself means “to pound”  and therefore doesn’t actually have to follow any specific ingredients to be considered a standard recipe.  Basil is the most popular version of pesto though and is what people generally associate with it.  Using this recipe you can make a variety of sauces using the same method; for instance, try making parsley and walnut pesto in lieu of the basil and pine nuts.  You can use pesto with pasta, pizzasoup, vegetables, spaghetti squash, in scrambled eggs, or mixed into dips like hummus.  You can even spread it on toast or tomatoes!

I make my pesto a little thicker, using less olive oil (and calories), than some others may.  You can put additional oil into the pesto when adding it to your dish if desired, but many won’t need it.

Fresh Basil in from the Garden

Makes 3/4 – 1 Cup of Pesto

4 Cups Fresh Basil

2 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped

2 TBS Parmesan Cheese

1 TBS Pine Nuts

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

First, wash the basil.  I like to fill the sink with water and submerge the stalks; the dirt will fall to the bottom of the sink. Remove the largest stalks, but don’t worry about the smaller stems.

Wash the basilNext, dry the leaves off on towels.  It doesn’t need to be bone dry though.

Dry the BasilAdd all the ingredients, except olive oil, into the food processor.  You can wait to season with salt & pepper or do it now.

add to the food processorDrizzle olive oil in while processing.  Scrape down with a spatula and then continue pulsing until consistency is on the smoother side.

consistencyYou can either put into a airtight container (like a mason jar or tupperware) and store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for future use.  Scoop dollops of finished pesto into an ice cube tray.  Gently tap* the tray on the counter to force any air bubbles out and make the cubes even. (*gently tap – or else you and your whole kitchen will be wearing pesto!)

fill ice cube trayFreeze in trays overnight.  Each batch will equal 13-15 cubes – each cube is a 2 TBS serving.  Using a blunt edged dinner knife gently loosen one side of the cube and the whole thing will just easily pop out.

Remove Pesto Cubes from the traysPlace pesto cubes into a ziploc freezer bag.  Whenever you want to use pesto, simply take out a cube or more and defrost.  The pesto doesn’t mix very well when you place it directly into your meal on stove-top.  So either pop the cube in the microwave (1 cube for 30 seconds – more time for more) or defrost at room temperature.  Enjoy!







9 thoughts on “Perfect Pesto – a Simple Recipe and Storage Idea for Use All Year Long

  1. Thanks for this recipe! I harvested 6 cups of basil today and froze a ton of pesto. For some reason I didn’t have ice trays (?) so I used muffin tins with a plastic wrap liner for easy removal. Pretty exciting!

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  7. Great tutorial! BTW, if you only have a small bit of basil (or parsley, for variety), you can use a mini-prep processor instead of a full-size Cuisinart. I’ve used a mortar and pestle, too, but although very authentic, a lot of work!!! I made your chimichurri recipe in the mini-prep & just did it in batches & turned out fine. Thanks for sharing!!!

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