Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sowing the Basil About Pesto

In Italy, the offering of basil is a promise of love. And according to The Rodale Herb Book, "early Greek and Roman physicians believed that basil only thrived if it were sown amid vile shouts and curses." Well, there must have been lots of ranting and raving going on when I was sowing the basil because I have a bunch of it. However, there was a promise of love amidst the upheaval..... Pesto!

Well, I do love basil and I especially love pesto. I think making pesto would be a good method of preservation. Did you know pesto can be successfully frozen? This means I can enjoy my basil through the winter months. I adore pesto on pizza, it's wonderful on grilled tilapia and of course, it can be tossed with pasta.

Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" is one of my favorite cook books and his recipe for Basic Pesto is wonderful. If you plan to freeze it, leave out the cheese until you're ready to use it. Actually, it's probably a good idea to leave it out completely, and add the cheese as you go. You may not want the cheese in some dishes, anyway.

Basic Pesto

2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried
Salt to taste
1/2 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about 1/2 the oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture (I did not use all the oil stated). Store in the refrigerator for a week or two, or in the freezer for several months. Stir in the parmesan by hand just before serving.

Check out Mark Bittman's blog in which he uses this Basic Pesto in a recipe on a previous post.


  1. I will keep this recipe for next year. We are going to be growing herbs in the garden.

    oh.....I made the pound cake.....YUMMY!

  2. Yum! Yummmm! (singing in my pretend soprano voice. lol) That just looks amazing, Laurie. Gorgeous photos. Gorgeous Pesto. Pesto pesto, do your very besto! (everytime I see pesto it makes me think of that Sophia Loren movie "Houseboat".

    Hugs, Robin

  3. I freeze mine in an ice cube tray and then pop the frozen cubes in an airtight container or bag. That way I can pull out as little as a cube or two for pizza or a dozen for pasta sauce.


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