Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pesto days

Fall has arrived and it's time to gather up the remaining herbs in the garden. 

I harvested an armful of basil Sunday, and made pesto to freeze.  Pesto is the best way to store basil.  Basil does not dry well (it dries, but virtually no flavor remains), but whizzed up with olive oil, and frozen, it retains its flavor and color. 

Like many recipes, go with your instincts.  Pull leaves from the plants.  Wash and spin dry.  Load them into the food processor and whiz until you have nearly a paste of basil.  Drizzle olive oil (or any oil, really), until you form a loose paste.  You're done.  You can add ground nuts (pignoli, almonds, walnuts), and grated cheese (parmigiano, pecorino) if you like -- depends how you plan to use it.  If you're looking to keep the basil to add to a simmering sauce during the cold winter, then basil + oil is all you need.  If you want to use it as pasta sauce on its own, then add the nuts and cheese.  A pinch of salt is good, too.

Once whizzed up, the pesto can be scooped into mini-muffin tins and frozen.  Once frozen, they can be popped out and stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. 

 A big bowlful of basil leaves, picked over, washed, and spun dry.

 All those leaves make this much pesto. 
Doesn't seem like a lot, but a little bit goes a long way.

 My silicone mini-muffin 'tin.'  Perfect for this.

Pesto filling the muffin tin, and sitting in the freezer.

Once frozen, the knobs of pesto pop right out.

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