My Passion for Pesto

A recent freezer assessment has me longing for the late spring and the abundance of Basil. Somehow, there are only two containers of Pesto left in my freezer from my harvest last May and June.  Thank goodness for the...

A recent freezer assessment has me longing for the late spring and the abundance of Basil. Somehow, there are only two containers of Pesto left in my freezer from my harvest last May and June.  Thank goodness for the addition of Hydroponic Basil available in some of the high end grocery stores, I can make some added batches of this treat in the dead of winter!  This alternative makes a very good batch of Pesto.

Someone suggested I use a jar of pesto, but after you have made this homemade version, you will not go back to that convenience food.  Pesto is very  easy, a few good simple ingredients and a food processor and you will create a very appreciated homemade treat.  This freezes well and it a welcomed tub of “green gold” to many of my friends.  It can also be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Basil
Basil

Pesto

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of walnuts – toasted
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts – toasted

*** With the cost of pine nuts, you might opt to only use the walnuts for this recipe and this is good.  I still like the combination of the nuts and the flavors.

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt – remember you will be using cheeses
  • 5 cups fresh basil, cleaned, dried and packed. Remove and discard any flowering buds.
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of garlic about 9 – 12 cloves
  • ¾ cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • ¾ cup Romano Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup olive oil

Directions:

Place the nuts and garlic cloves into a food processor (at least a 6 – 8 cup processor) fitted with a steel blade. Grind the nuts and garlic for about 30 seconds.  Then add your salt and pepper and basil leaves to the processor and then begin to slowly add your olive oil through the feed tube.  Process this mixture until it is a fine puree.  Then add your grated cheeses to combine.  At this point, you can serve immediately, store in the fridge for about 1 week or freeze the portions as desired.  You can freeze this Pesto for up to a year.  This recipe will make about 4 cups of Pesto.  I suggest freezing in a 2 cup container with a twist lid, adding a thin layer of olive oil and cheese on the top to keep the Pesto from discoloring.  I have also frozen Pesto in ice-cube trays and once it is frozen, transferred this to freezer bags using this as a seasoning boost for soups or stews.  This takes a Roasted Vegetable Soup or a classic Minestrone Soup to the next level!

One of the most popular serving suggestions at my house is Pesto Pasta.

PestoPasta
PestoPasta

I serve this hot, but often at room temp for events and it is always a huge hit!  I do not skimp on my Pesto, I will use about 2 cups of Pesto to a pound of Pasta.

But, I will admit the latest craze of grilling my pizzas on my Weber has also become a popular with this Pesto Topping.

Pesto Pizza
Pesto Pizza

I will often cheat and get the Pizza Dough at the grocery store in a Whole Wheat- Seven Grain variety.

The secret to success is creating hot Pizzas and eating immediately.  You can get your party involved in this prep and cooking for added fun!

I build a fire of charcoal within my Weber Grill.  A medium sized fire will support 4 – 6  small pizzas.  Once the coals are ready, spread out the coals.  Add the wire grate as your cooking surface.

Roll out the dough in small rounds, about 6 – 7” as you need to be able to turn this on the grill grates.

Lightly olive oil and toast the first side of the dough. As it begins to bubble, you will know you have begun to bake your dough. While this is still on the grill, lightly oil this side of the pizza dough. Watch so this does not burn!  Remove from the grill and top the toasted side with Pesto, then maybe a thinly sliced tomato if in season. Then top with fresh Mozzarella cheese, grated or crumbled. Warning:  slices of cheese do not melt fast enough.  Return your pizza to the grill. Your uncooked side of your dough will be facing the fire at this time.

Cover your grill for about three minutes to allow the cheese to melt and the bottom dough to bake and brown.

Remove and serve immediately.  I suggest using a cooling rack and sheet pan to transport this prized pizza to the table to be shared.  Best enjoyed fresh and hot!

I can promise you that soon you too will have a passion for Pesto with these recipe ideas.