I recently had a conversation with a canning workshop participant about her adventures in basil pesto. She bought up 40 cups of basil at the farmer market, and made 22 cups of basil pesto to freeze. Yum!
This conversation reminded me that I had been meaning to post a recipe for pesto – ’tis the season for bulk basil – and discuss some alternatives to basil in pesto.
About a month ago, I briefly mentioned nasturtium pesto. This was an exciting recipe for me, as I really love pesto and can’t always get my hands on as much basil as I’d like to.
There are lots of greens that make nice pesto. In addition to basil pesto and nasturtium leaf pesto, I’ve also made garlic scape pesto and arugula pesto. I know others who make parsley pesto and kale pesto. Experiment! (If you’re making garlic scape pesto, leave out the garlic cloves. You may also want to add spinach or tomato to add moisture and balance out the garlicky flavour.)
Pesto freezes nicely, but if you are going to freeze it, leave out the parmesan or other cheese until you’re ready to thaw and serve the pesto. Also, you can freeze pesto in ice cube trays for manageable serving sizes. Once the pesto cubes are frozen, pop them out and put them in a freezer bag for a quick and easy winter meal.
Here’s a basic pesto recipe:
From Eating By the Seasons
2 cups fresh basil leaves (or any of the greens mentioned above)
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or toasted sunflower seeds
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan, swiss, pecorino or Romano cheese, grated
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the cheese. Process the mixture in short bursts. If it’s too oily, add more basil. If it’s too dry, add more oil. Add grated cheese last or just before serving.
Yours in Food,