I think that basil is truly the easiest thing to grow. It was the first edible item I tried my luck at and have planted it every year since.
Basil isn’t too finicky and grows really well in a pot. So well, in fact, that I give tons away to my neighbor and freeze it multiple times throughout the summer.
To freeze basil, I gather as much as I can on a single day. Then I give it a thorough wash and dry in my salad spinner.
Next, I chop up the leaves with a little water in a food processor. Then I put one tablespoon of the finely chopped basil in each ice cube spot of the tray.
Pop those out after freezing over night and place the basil cubes into a zipper bag to use in sauces and soups over the winter. Tastes like the fresh stuff!
This year, I finally broke down and bought a new mini-food processor. So small, that I can tuck it into one of my deeper drawers.
However, it was large enough to makes the following batch of pesto. YUM!
Basil Pesto – adapted from Martha Stewart Cooking School recipe
(makes about 2 cups)
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
- 1 teaspoon course salt
- pepper to taste
- 6 Tablespoons walnuts (or pine nuts), toasted
- 3/4 cup good olive oil
Toast walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet; toss during toasting a few times. Do NOT burn. Let cool completely.
In a food processor, pulse nuts and garlic until slightly chopped. Add basil. Process until nuts are finely chopped. Add salt, pepper and cheese. Pulse until cheese is incorporated.
With machine running, pour oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process until smooth. Use immediately, store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze.
To freeze, I placed one cup of pesto in a quart freezer zipper bag. After removing all of the air, seal the bag and lay flat in the freezer. This makes it much easier to store later.
I think I may have processed my pesto little too long, but this was my first try. Pesto sometimes looks a little chunkier in some of the pictures I’ve seen. I welcome any tips out there. Although, the flavor was still fantastic!!!
**UPDATE: After reading some of the comments and chatting with some of my bloggy friends, I've decided to cut back on the olive oil to 3/4 cup instead of a full cup. I used a little less than a cup and it was, as mentioned, lacking the texture I wanted.