We planted basil with the tomatoes in our garden this year to prevent tomato worms. The basil loved the extra water that we offer the tomato plants, and trimming it back with regular use made the plants full and prolific. When we first grew roses, I hated to cut the roses for inside the house because it left the bush without any, but I soon learned that the plants love being cut back and yield a healthy regrowth in no time – the basil plant acts the same way.
The basil plants did so well that I made multiple batches of pesto which gave me the opportunity to perfect the recipe. I started with a recipe from Bon Appetit and tweaked it a bit for my pantry. My freezer is stocked for the winter when pasta and soups taste extra yummy, and I took some to my mom for her fridge and freezer too. This recipe can be halved, but unless you have an industrial size food processor, doubling it is not really an option. Besides, one recipe is plenty for a family meal with some left over for another purpose which uses less, like in a soup or on sandwiches.
Homemade Pesto Recipe
Best uses are tossed with warm pasta, spread on bread when making a sandwich, add to soup, or serve with cream cheese on crackers as a snack or appetizer.
- 6 cups Basil (washed and spun in the salad spinner, then tossed in the fridge until ready to use)
- ½ cup nuts (I don’t even bother toasting them, and just use walnut because they are cheaper than pine nuts with a similar flavor)
- ¾ cup parmesan (the cheap stuff in the green can is fine for this)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled) 1 tsp salt (I don’t skimp here because even the good stuff is affordable)
- ¾ cup olive oil (not the super cheap one, but not the-over-the-top expensive one)
Directions: Put nuts, cheese and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. (Pulse in important here so that you are not making nut-butter with the nuts. Add basil and place the top back on. With the motor running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute. Season with salt. If you are going to store it in the fridge, top it with olive oil and top with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface to prevent browning.
Alternatively, fill ice cube trays with unused pesto and freeze for little blocks that you can take out as needed. You can toss one of these little frozen blocks into a pot of soup, or defrost the amount you need. Note: I have an ice maker, which means I don’t have ice cube trays, so I found some at the dollar store, and while they may not all be the same size cubes – it was just a buck for the pair of trays, and this is not baking where the measurements need to be precise.
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