Aug 14, 2014

Homemade Pesto Recipe

We planted six basil plants this year in the garden, mainly as a way to combat pests for our tomatoes. While the tomato plants have been less stellar than years previous at our old home, the basil has turned out to be a rock star this year. But what to do with all the basil? One of my favorite recipes calls for pesto. And so, I set out trying to perfect a pesto recipe that could be stored in the freezer. 

I started out following one of Martha Stewart's recipes. After 4 attempts with tweaking different aspects of the recipe, I have finally come up with my own, which I love. Here it is: 

Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto

  • 1/2 cup roasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
  • 1 head oven roasted garlic
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
It usually takes me two nights to make a batch. This is why - first, I have to separate the leaves from the stems. This can be a bit time consuming.  I usually do it sitting in front of the TV, working between the basket full of fresh basil, a bowl that holds the separated leaves and a brown bag to place the stems in, which is then taken out to the compost pile. 

Meanwhile, while I am separating the leaves, I have the head of garlic roasting in the oven for an hour. I follow these directions for that. I just store the garlic, wrapped in tin foil for the oven roasting, in the fridge until the next day. By the end of the night our house smells heavenly from both the basil and garlic.

The next night, I roast the pine nuts and walnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, tossing half way through. These go straight into the food processor, along with the roasted garlic cloves and grated Parmesan cheese. 

This photo was taken during a pine nuts only attempt at the pesto.

Meanwhile, I bring a pot of water to a boil for the basil leaves. When the water is right, I blanch the basil quickly in the boiling water, then drain and cool it off in the sink with cold water. I like this step, mainly because my basil comes straight from the garden and not all spiders or other pests, along with dirt are removed with a regular old rinsing.  I feel this way, some sterilization takes place.

Originally I was then drying the basil leaves on paper towels, but I have since found it is much easier to simply squeeze all the water out by hand. It all goes into the blender next any how.

Once the basil is added, I start my Cuisinart. As it is going, I add the olive oil through the top, along with some salt and pepper to taste.

The final step is scooping out the pesto into a zip lock bag and placing it in the freezer. Usually my batches are about double the amount specified above, which fills up about 1/2 of a Quart Freezer bag by Ziplock.

The you have it.

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