Before the grasshoppers completely devour my big beautiful basil bushes, I did some snipping and decided to add to my pesto reserve in the freezer. Pesto is so easy to prepare and gives you an instant pasta dish when you don’t feel like messing with dinner. I’m particularly fond of it on a wide noodle like fettuccine. It’s also a great sandwich spread, especially when slathered on a crusty ciabatta bread, topped with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and baby spinach and heated on an indoor grill.Mmmmwwwhhha!
The basil is traditionally pounded or crushed using a mortar and pestle, along with the other ingredients. “Pestare” means “to pound” in Italian. Hence the name “pesto” as this green sauce originated in the northern region of Italy. I call this a quick pesto or anti-pounding pesto because I use a food processor. I don’t know about you, but I opt to save time and the wear and tear on my hands grinding the leaves to a fine powder. You’ll also see recipes where it is chopped using a twin curved blade called a “mezzaluna”.
A variation is to substitute walnuts for the pine nuts. Go easy on the salt–taste test it before you remove it from the processor. And you may want to add the grated Parmesan when serving if you intend to freeze it. I’ve heard that it doesn’t hurt the cheese when thawing, but I prefer serving the grated Parmesan cheese fresh atop the pasta and pesto.That also allows you to adjust the amount of cheese to the preference of your family or dinner guests.
I use small plastic freezing containers packed in a quantity I think I’ll be using for each meal. The portioned plastic packed pesto allows you to squeeze it from the bottom so it just pops easily out of the container without having to wait until it thaws.
- 1-1/2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 2-3 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine all ingredients except olive oil and cheese in a food processor. Pulse as you slowly pour in olive oil and achieve desired consistency.
Add grated Parmesan cheese when ready to serve.
Freeze the rest in small plastic freezing containers.
Makes about 1/2 cup.