When your basil crop is at full summer strength, before the leaves curl up and the tops flower, it’s time to make some pesto and get it into the freezer. You’ll be especially glad you did when the only basil you can get is a tiny $3 bunch hanging by the dill.
And if you put it off until the first frost arrives, you’ll be extra disappointed. Then come February, I guarantee you’ll be so thankful for that aromatic fresh flavor tossed with linguini, stirred into mashed potatoes, combined with mayo and smeared on a sandwich, or swirled into a hot winter soup. Yes, delayed gratification is a good thing.
You can make a good basic pesto with or without the cheese for freezing. I’ve had great results both ways. It won’t take up as much room in the freezer if you leave out the cheese. Thaw the pesto and stir in the Parmesan before using.
Lots of folks like the convenience of freezing pesto in ice cube trays (if you still have some lying around, or you went for the silicone trays the cocktail craze brought us). Once frozen, just pop out the green cubes and store them in a sealable freezer bag. So easy to grab a cube or two and put to use. Or, spoon the pesto directly into the small freezer half bags in a thin layer and sealed. Flat, thin bags stack and store so nicely.
- 4 cups packed basil leaves or at least 3 cups basil and 1 cup parsley
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cups pine nuts
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and salt in the food processor.
Process until smooth-ish. Add the cheese and pulse a few more times. Now it's ready to use.
To store, pour pesto into an airtight container and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to keep it from turning brown. Makes about 4 cups.
You can freeze it in small plastic containers, in ice cube trays and then transfer the cubes to freezer bags or spoon direction into freezer bags. Some folks prefer to leave out the cheese when freezing and adding just before serving. Works both ways.