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 3. Add the basil leaves. Give them a whirl until they are finely chopped.
Step 4. Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. (You can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts, if you prefer them.)
Step 5. Pulse until it forms a coarse paste.
Step 6. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube.
Keep it running just until everything is well mixed.
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.
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.
Use a spoon to fill the compartments of the tray with pesto.
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.
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.
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.
Once the pesto is frozen solid, remove the trays from the freezer.
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.
Fill the plastic bag with frozen pesto cubes and return it to the freezer.
You can also freeze pesto in small jars or plastic containers. I like to freeze some 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.
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!
Here's the recipe for one batch of pesto (I usually make 2 batches while I'm at it.)
Classic Basil Pesto
Servings: makes 2-1/2 cups
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
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.
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