Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pesto Chango

So many of you have asked about my pesto.  Just for background, pesto is the Italian name for herb paste and as we all know, there are a limitless number of herbs so pesto isn't just the basil and oilve oil based paste you are used to seeing.  I actually have a book of really tasty pestos of all kinds in case you have an excess amount of herbs and want to do something with them.  Pestos are easily frozen and thawed for later use and that's exactly what I do with my classic basil pesto.

There's this farm market I go to to get bushels of basil.  It's $20 per bushel to be exact which is a steal since the one oz of basil you get at the grocery store costs at least two dollars and then you say to yourself, "I can just buy this basil plant here for four dollars, maybe I should just do that and grow some more", but that plant never has enough for your recipe, so you end up buying two packs of cut basil and it still doesn't even equal the cup you need.  If any herb companies are out there reading this, you ALWAYS need more basil in recipes than, say, fresh thyme or rosemary.  You can use cups of basil but one tablespoon of rosemary so why are the packages the exact same size? Can those people be more uneducated about the amounts of basil used in recipes? 

Table of Basil

Anyway, so my suggestion to you is to find a farmers market that sells basil by the bushel and turn it into a basil and oilve oil puree to freeze for the whole year so you never have to buy that tiny package again.  This is the recipe

2 cups packed basil
1/2 cup oilve oil.

Put all ingredients in blender and pulse, push down, and blend until it's as puree'd as your blender can do.  Pour into a plastic bag and place in the freezer.  I made around 50 bags of pesto base this year.  I had about 30 last year and I ran out two months before the basil harvest.

IF you want to make the pesto with the cheese and nuts you may add them in when you serve your dish.  I read that you shouldn't really freeze the cheese and nuts for long periods of time so you should add those ingredients in when you're serving the dish.  So to your basil paste you add...

1 garlic clove
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs freshy grated Pecorino Romano (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything into the blender once more and blend until creamy.

Tip: If you make your own pesto, make sure you wash the leaves well and let them dry before blending them.  Also make sure you pick the leaves off the thick stems.  The small ones are fine, but large stems don't puree.  If your basil is wilted, just soak the leaves in water and put in the fridge in a closed bag overnight and they will crisp back up.  This works with any herb.

I also have a small glass jar in the fridge filled with my basil paste that I use on sandwiches instead of mayo and mustard.  I throw it in omlets, top sunny side up eggs with it, spoon it on top of soft or hard boiled eggs (delicious!) dip cold veggies in it, throw it on top of home-made pizzas, and put it on grilled cheese sandwiches.  The options are limitless so go find your bushel of basil and make your pesto for the year!


Paige said...

Yum. That was inspiring. Thanks Amelia!

sbt said...

I second making pesto for the year! We had 10 basil plants this year - and Thor is in charge of doing the pesto making at our house. It's so delicious on everything!

Kami & Jacob said...

You are amazing! I love reading about your yummy undertakings. I love pesto and would love to "find my bushel." I'll let you know if I find it. :)