The end of summer brought a bountiful basil harvest for us (isn’t the purple basil pretty?), so I had to get creative so as not to waste it. There are only two of us in the house and most recipes only call few a few leaves of fresh basil, so I decided to make and freeze a bunch of pesto to have all winter long. (One day I will learn how to can foods, just not today.)
First I pulled off all the good leaves from the harvested plants, washed them well, and spun them dry. If you don’t own a salad spinner, buy one today! It is seriously the best $40 you’ll ever spend, and then you won’t end up drying leaves on towels all over your kitchen.
Most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, but I was out, so I used walnuts instead. You start with a few cloves of garlic in the food processor, add as many leaves as will fit and give it a few pulses until they are finely chopped. Add the cheese (sometimes I use nutritional yeast instead for a vegan version), nuts, and salt and pepper, pulse again until you get a rough paste.
Then, with the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube until you get your desired texture. Since I am freezing my pesto, I go a little light on the olive oil (I’ll explain why in a moment.) And voila! Instant pesto!
To freeze, I spooned the pesto into ice cube trays. You can see here the green pesto on the left and the purple pesto on the right:
To keep the pesto from going dark when it makes contact with the air, I drizzled a little olive oil over top of each cube (which is why I went light on the oil originally). I covered each tray with plastic wrap (pushing the plastic into the pesto to minimize air) and froze overnight. The next day, I popped them out onto a cookie sheet and then put them in a tupperware in the freezer (using wax paper in between the layers to keep them from sticking to each other).
Pretty simple! And now we’ll have fresh pesto for months to come. 🙂