Need amazing basil pesto recipe for freezing

GWloloJune 14, 2013

I think we overdid on basil planting this year. We planted 6 4in pots 2 weeks ago and already they are mini bushes that I have been pinching off. I need to harvest a whole lot this weekend and I want to make a pesto and freeze. I have pine nuts and what I think is a typical recipe with olive oil. But the taste is blah. Does anyone have a kickass pesto recipe they can share? I do want to be able to freeze in small blobs for reuse later.

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You do not have to make a full pesto recipe for freezing (unless you want to), and if you need to preserve/freeze a bunch of basil right away, you can just process it with olive oil and salt and then add the rest of the ingredients later. I generally puree it with garlic as well and then freeze it.

I made pesto last night for dinner, but I really do not have a recipe. I didn't have pine nuts either and had to substitute blanched slivered almonds, which I had in the freezer and had mistaken for pine nuts.

Here's approximately how I made it:

2 cups basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 very large garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (I used 2-year aged cheese, which I think works best - the 3-year cheese is too hard)
1/2 cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, blanched almonds, walnuts)

I put everything in the FP except the cheese and nuts and then puree until well blended - taste for S&P, and adjust oil, if needed. If I were going to freeze it, I would stop there.

Next add the cheese and pulse a couple of time to mix in. Then add the nuts and pulse until the nuts have been chopped to a small mince, but not pureed. I like the nuts to be crunchy, sort of like the nuts in crunchy peanut butter.

The proportions are just a guess, and so I recommend doing it by taste. It's difficult to measure basil leaves, and some of them are more bitter than others, which is why you have to do it by taste.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 6:08PM
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If the taste is lacking and the recipe is standard, the recipe is not the problem. The basil is. Two things: has it been raining a whole lot where you are? If so, wait until you've had some sunny days.
Second, how are you measuring the basil? If the recipe says two cups, you van get wildly different amounts of basil depending on the size of the leaves and how you pack them.
If the leaves are large, tear them into 2 or 3 pieces, and pack them into the cup a bit.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Lars - thanks for the recipe. If freezing, why do you not add nuts and parmesan? Do they not do well if frozen? I will be traveling for work this week, so will need to freeze the pesto.

Cloudy - I think my recipe's proportions were off. It was something I jotted down from TV years ago and the salt and the garlic were a bit off and way too much oil. We have dry summers here in CA, so my basil is quite potent. Good point on packing the leaves. I will do that.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:08AM
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Here's the recipe I use, Marcella Hazan's. She also recommends leaving out the cheese if you're going to freeze it, and beating it in after thawing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marcella Hazan's pesto recipe

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 1:01PM
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some recipes seem to have too much oil for me, but I love this one from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. . .

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 to 4 large cloves of garlic
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan
Salt/pepper to taste

Mince basil and garlic in food processor. Add nuts and process until nuts are ground. Drizzle in olive oil, keeping machine running. When you have a smooth paste, transfer to bowl and stir in parmesan. Season with S & P. Cookbook says it will keep for weeks, even monhts if stored in tightly lidded sterile jar. . .and it does!! I also put a piece of plastic wrap on the top, making sure it comes in contact with the surface of the pesto.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 5:09PM
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I wanted to post back to this thread. We actually tried all 3 recipes and my family liked the Marcella Hazan recipe the best. I did a small batch using the mortor and pestle as well which was fun and seemed to have more of a punchy flavor. I used a thai mortor pestle and I suppose that is different the mezzaluna that I guess is more traditional to Italy.

I froze a big batch (just scooped dollops onto parchment and froze it). This has been very rewarding. thank you again. I have to explore more recipes with veggies, maybe pasta salads etc.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Here's a link to an old post requesting recipes using lots of basil. You should get some ideas for other possibilities there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Basil recipes

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:57AM
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Glad you started this thread, GWlolo. I made pesto from my home grown basil yesterday and found it disappointing, primarily too oily for me. Maybe I'll try the Moosewood recipe. Mine called for 1/4 cup of oil to 2 cups of basil.

Interesting about rain affecting the basil. CC, as you know, we have had some major downpours lately. Perhaps that made the basil less strong.

Another problem is that despite adding 1 T of lemon juice (Realemon), it still turned brown. It made about 1 cup of pesto.

I had it on pasta, but may try it on chicken to see if that tastes better.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:58AM
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