Friday, August 20, 2010

Basil – when it rains, it pours

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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.

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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.

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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.

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However, it was large enough to makes the following batch of pesto. YUM!

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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.

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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.




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14 comments:

  1. looks super delicious! I have that same cute little processor, and i LOVE it! I use it for so many little jobs, like chopping an onion, or garlic or nuts.

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  2. I love basil and pesto! I've never tried to freeze it before but I'm definitely going to give that a try. Thanks for the idea! Your pesto looks yummy. I noticed the recipe calls for a lot of oil, maybe that's why it didn't seem chunky?? The recipe I use just calls for a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

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  3. Emily - I thought it was a lot of oil too, but then I read a bunch of other recipes and saw similar ratios. I also doubled up the recipe so that might make it seem like a lot too.

    Hmmmm....I'm definitely cutting back on the oil next time though. Thanks for bringing that up.

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  4. Ah, beautiful beautiful Basil! My recipe is 2 C tightly packed basil leaves to 1/4 C olive oil (along with other good stuff), and I was very happy with the consistency. I also chopped my nuts separately and added them after the rest was pulverized, so it keeps some texture.

    I agree, basil is one of the easiest things to grow... unless a little stinker three year old decides to pull every last seedling out of the ground. You know, just for fun!

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  5. I have bunches of basil too. Never thought to chop it up with water and freeze! We get tired of pesto and having "fresh" basil in winter would be nice. Thanks for the tip :)

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  6. You just gave me an incredible idea for all the fresh basil I have in my backyard!! :)

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  7. I love pesto, but I've always been afraid to make it myself. Your simple steps make it seem doable, so thank you!

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  8. What a wonderful post! I'm just now starting to try to grow things, but I haven't tried basil. I guess I should give it a go next year. I love the suggestion about putting it into ice cube trays. - www.delightfulcountrycookin.com

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  9. Your pesto sounds wonderful - and I love how you freeze it! Thanks for sharing your recipe, it's so useful!!

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  10. This looks amazing. From fresh basil and all. Thanks for the inspiration! So glad you linked up with tasty tuesdays.
    alicia

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  11. I knew you could freeze basil, but I wasn't sure how to do it. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Hi Sabrina! I just came across your blog yesterday (can't remember where I linked over from, but it landed on your post about the Goodwill coffee table redo). I am loving your blog already and will be following along; love your creativity!

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  13. What a wonderful Idea! How you frozen other herbs that way as well? I have oregano, rosemary and parsley in bountiful supply.

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  14. Donnetta - I haven't tried any other herbs, but I'm sure others have. Just google "freezing "blank" herb" and you'll be surprised what comes up! Good luck!

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