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Monica's favorite gear
for making PESTO
This 11-cup model gets lots of use in my kitchen. It makes so many tasks easier--like making pesto in a snap!
The cubes in this tray hold 2 tablespoons of pesto--a convenient amount to have handy in the freezer.
These hold 1/2 cup of pesto--just the right amount for pizza sauce and many other recipes.
Also available: plastic lids for jars
I keep olive oil in one of these bottles for squeezing it in a pan when I saute or topping off the pesto "ice cubes" to prevent browning.

Pesto--How to Make It and Freeze It


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Classic Basil Pesto

By Monica              makes 2-1/2 cups
Pesto has many uses. It is easy to make and freeze to have ready to enhance foods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Pesto has many uses. It is easy to make and freeze to have ready to enhance foods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Ingredients
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts (walnuts may be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic. Add basil leaves and chop until fine. Add cheese, pine nuts, salt, and pepper; pulse until the consistency of a coarse paste. With the food processor running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube and continue mixing until the oil is completely combined with paste. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week. Pesto freezes well. Freeze in ice cube trays, and then store frozen pesto cubes in plastic freezer bags in freezer for up to 6 months. Pesto may also be frozen in small jars or plastic containers for up to 9-12 months.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon): 27 calories, 2.3g fat, .6g carbs, 0g fiber, 1.4g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 1


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One of King-Man's favorite scene's in Forrest Gump is where Gump's friend Bubba is describing all the ways to cook shrimp. Remember that scene? It's a classic and goes like this. “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. There's, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich... That's, that's about it.”

Well, Bubba, that's the way I feel about pesto.

  • You can mix pesto with pasta,
  • you can mix pesto with rice,
  • you can spread pesto on meat,
  • you can make pesto dip,
  • you can spread pesto on a sandwich,
  • you can use pesto for a pizza sauce,
  • you can mix pesto into soups, 
  • you can make pesto salad dressing.

And, that's not even close to "about it".
There is so much more you can do with pesto. 

Not only is pesto as versatile as Bubba's shrimp, but it is so delicious and easy to make. The main ingredient, basil, is in abundant supply this time of year. So, I seize the opportunity to make up a few batches of pesto and freeze it so I'll have homemade pesto throughout the fall and winter. Once frozen, it may not be quite as good as fresh, but it's darn close and way better than the stuff in jars at the grocery store. Fortunately, fresh basil is available in grocery stores year round in most places; so if you miss out on freezing basil in the summer, it is always possible to find the ingredients to whip up a fresh batch pretty much any ol' time.

Did you know? Basil is high in antioxidants and is considered one of the most nutritious herbs. It is rich in vitamin A and C and contains potassium, magnesium, iron.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon of pesto): 27 calories, 2.3g fat, .6g carbs, 0g fiber, 1.4g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 1

I'm going to explain:

  • how to make a classic basil pesto
  • how to freeze it in pre-measured portions for easy use in the future 

Step-by-step photos for making
Classic Basil Pesto


Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: fresh basil, olive oil, black pepper, kosher salt, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts.

ingredients

Step 2. Chop the cloves of garlic in the food processor. Keep it whirling until no garlic is flying around in there any more.

View Monica's Food Processor on Amazon

garlic whole  garlic chopped

Step 3. Add the basil leaves. Give them a whirl until they are finely chopped.

basil whole  basil chopped

Step 4. Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. (You can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts, if you prefer them.)

nuts,cheese,salt,pep

Step 5. Pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

paste

Step 6. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube.

oil in machine

Keep it running just until everything is well mixed.

pesto finished

That's it! Easy, huh? You can put the pesto into an air tight container where it will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

pesto

HOW TO FREEZE PESTO

If you're planning on freezing some or all of the pesto you make, you'll need an ice cube tray or two. I also like to have some olive oil in a condiment squeeze bottle for drizzling out small amounts, but you can also pour from the original olive oil bottle or use a spoon.

It's helpful to know how much each of the ice cube compartments holds, so that you can easily remove the needed amount from the freezer later on. To figure this out, use a measuring spoon and add water to one of the ice cube compartments in your trays to determine how much each cube and tray will hold. My ice cube compartments each holds approx. 2 tablespoons.

View on Amazon:   ♦ squeeze bottles  ♦ ice cube trays

icetrays

Use a spoon to fill the compartments of the tray with pesto.

filled tray

Use a squeeze bottle or spoon to drizzle a light layer of olive oil over the top of each cube compartment. This will keep the pesto from getting dark from contact with the air.

oil drizzle

Cover the tray with plastic wrap. Gently tap the plastic down on top of each cube section so it keeps out as much air as possible. Put the tray in the freezer for several hours or overnight so that the cubes freeze completely.

plastic wrap

Label quart size plastic freezer bags. I like to put the quantity of each pesto cube on the label (1 cube = 2 tablespoons), in case this old brain of mine forgets that detail when it's time to use the frozen pesto later.

ziploc labeling

Once the pesto is frozen solid, remove the trays from the freezer.

frozen tray

I flip the ice cube tray over and put it under the the faucet to trickle some cold water on the bottom of the tray for a few seconds--hold your hand underneath the tray so the cubes don't fall into the sink. The pesto cubes pop right out.

out of tray

Fill the plastic bag with frozen pesto cubes and return it to the freezer. The are good to use for up to 6 months.

pesto in ziploc

You can also freeze pesto in small jars or plastic containers. I like to freeze most of mine in these 4 oz. mason jars. They hold 1/2 cup of pesto--just the right amount to use for pizza sauce and many other recipes. These frozen jars of pesto are good for 9-12 months.

View on Amazon:   ♦ 4-oz Mason Jars   ♦ Plastic Lids for Jars

pesto

The next time you want to add some quick flavor to pasta, or meat, or salad, or ... (see my Bubba list at the top of this post), you've got it in your freezer.
PRESTO, PESTO! 

For recipes using pesto, check out these posts:
♦25 Best Recipes With Pesto
♦Pesto for Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner 
8 Fast and Easy Appetizers with Pesto 
Pesto Chicken Slider Sandwiches
Pesto Brown Rice Pilaf
Pesto Corn on the Cob
Pesto Croutons 

Do you have a food that you make with lots of variations? Just wondering what your Bubba food is. Or, maybe pesto will become your Bubba food. It sure is mine.

Make it a yummy day!
Monica 

 

Here's the recipe for one batch of pesto (I usually make 2 batches while I'm at it.)

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Classic Basil Pesto
By Monica              Servings: makes 2-1/2 cups
Ingredients
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts (walnuts may be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Directions
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic. Add basil leaves and chop until fine. Add cheese, pine nuts, salt, and pepper; pulse until the consistency of a coarse paste. With the food processor running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube and continue mixing until the oil is completely combined with paste. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week. Pesto freezes well. Freeze in ice cube trays, and then store frozen pesto cubes in plastic freezer bags in freezer for up to 6 months. Pesto may also be frozen in small jars or plastic containers for up to 9-12 months.

Nutritional Information (per tablespoon): 27 calories, 2.3g fat, .6g carbs, 0g fiber, 1.4g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 1
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Posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010

Looking for holiday gifts for the foodie in your life?
Here are a few gift guides I made to help:








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