Fresh basil just smells of summer and it transfers that wonderful warm odor to everything it touches. This time of year, it is the perfect ingredient.
It has the power to elevate the most mundane of tomatoes into a juicy feast with just a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. I can smell it just writing it…
I know that as the weather gets cooler, I will miss the fresh herbs from my garden so much and will have to start buying herbs again. Alas, supermarket basil enveloped in a plastic sleeve just does not have the same summery zing of the abundant backyard basil of August.
So, this basil pesto recipe allows you to preserve some of the scent and flavor of summer by making pesto you can freeze and pull out of the freezer throughout the cooler days. If you freeze it in small freezer bags you can defrost quickly by placing the bag (sealed of course) in a bowl of warm water or for smaller servings freeze in an ice cube tray.
This quick pesto recipe, is a great addition to pastas, roasted potatoes, soups, roasted veggies, grilled meat, the list goes on.
Here’s the recipe:
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (buy it in a block and grate, the stuff that comes ready grated does not have the same flavor – it reminds me of sawdust)
- 3 medium cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves – discard the stems and just use the leaves
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts (or walnuts – although they are pricey I think the flavor of pine nuts is better for pesto than walnuts)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start by plunging the basil leaves in a pan of hot water for a few seconds, dip in a sieve then remove and plunge into a bowl of ice-cold water. Gently dry on some paper towels.
Place all the ingredients into your blender and pulse. You may need to add a bit more olive oil if the mixture starts getting stuck in the blender. When combined, store in the fridge in an airtight container where it will last a few days. Or, freeze in freezer bags or an ice cube tray for Fall and beyond.
Fun pesto fact: Do you know how to stop your pesto going brown? Basil leaves oxidize very quickly but if you plunge them for a few seconds in hot water and then shock them in ice-cold water, they will keep their vibrant green hue.