Homegrown and homemade pesto!

Yes, I’ve been gone for a while. There has been A LOT going on; but I’m not going to get into that today.  So rather, let’s  talk basil.  I planted a lot of it this year, three different kinds in fact; and when it started to come in, oh did it come in!  I had more basil than I knew what to do with it. I started preserving it just by cutting it up and putting it in ice trays along with some water, to form ice cubes.  Then the basil can be thrown into a sauce, tossed, with pasta, used however you desired.  So that is one option.

Swirling pesto

One afternoon the ice trays were full and I still had a lot of basil left, and by a lot, I mean a ginormous (yes I love Elf) bowl of basil. I looked around the pantry shelves, I had all the ingredients for pesto so I figured, why not? I literally threw this together in under half an hour. I think I spent more time figuring out volume vs weight for the ingredients than it actually took to make the pesto.  I’ve made it twice and I have enough basil for the entire winter, it will last me well until next year.  There is no reason to not make your own pesto, it is so easy anyone can do it.  I promise, I would not steer you wrong!

Garlic and pine nuts, ready for the processor

This is what they should look like

Many cooks don’t realize the importance of a scale in cooking. There are so many variables in weight and volume, and no two foods measure up the same.  For this recipe I could not have measured the basil accurately without the OXO scale. Have you ever tried to measure basil by the cup?  If you have, then you’ve found yourself wondering, did I pack it too much, did I pack it too light, everyone packs differently, but weight is always the same!!

For instance, A cup of water weighs 80z, and most people thinks that all liquids are 8oz, but that is NOT the case.  A cup of honey weighs 12, yes TWELVE ounces! If you were to substitute weight for volume or vice versa, the recipe would be completely off! What about dry ingredients, how much does that weigh, 8oz? Nope! A cup of flour weighs 2.3 ounces, what a difference! Can you tell how worked up I get over this? This is serious business, it could make or break a recipe!  And Peanut Butter, that weighs just over 9 ounces! You NEED this scale!!

Love this view

Homemade Pesto

  • 7oz Basil (A LOT), washed and rinsed
  • 12 ounces pine nuts, toasted
  • 6 ounces Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Oz garlic (about 10 cloves)
  • 3 Ounces Romano cheese
  • 1 3/4 Ounces Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 Tsp pepepr
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • Toast the nuts in a preheated oven or toaster oven @350 just for a few minutes till light brown, maybe 4 minutes, maybe more maybe less. WATCH THEM and pull them out as soon as they are at the shade of golden brown you want them

Toast your nuts!

  • Peel and degerm your garlic (by degerm I mean slice in half and them remove the green stem running down the middle of the garlic. It DOES affect the flavor!)
  • Toss the Nuts and Garlic into a food processor and pulse till well chopped
  • Add in the cheese, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, close processor and turn on
  • While the processor is running, slowly stream in the olive oil.
  • Adjust it to your taste and consistency, pesto is very forgiving!

Easy Peasy!

Now comes storing the pesto. The first time I made it, I froze a bunch in ice cube trays, and then the rest I put in a mason jar and topped with Olive Oil for future use. But THEN my amazing and wonderful friend Brandi (who has an awesome blog and an equally awesome sense of humor) told me a new way to store the pesto!! She puts it in ziplock bags and then freezes it flat!! GENIUS!!! So the second time I made pesto I did that little trick and WOW, was I impressed!! I did some bags with 2Cups and some bags with 1Cup, and then labeled accordingly. 1 Cup of pesto covers a pound of pasta and 1/2 cup covers half a pound.  Then you just lay them flat and stack them on top of each other and freeze!! It’s THAT easy!

And when you want to use it, just thaw, and warm in a small sauce pan. If you like you can add some milk to make it into creamy pesto. Either way it is delicious!

Dinner is served!