Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Time for Basil Pesto Cubes!
I grow fresh basil every year in my garden. Now when the basil and parsley are plentiful, make extra pesto and freeze it into cubes or small containers to use through the winter.
1-1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups walnut pieces
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
To make the pesto; Heap the basil, parsley, garlic, walnuts and salt into the food processor. Pulse several times to chop everything together coarsely, then, with the machine running, pour in the 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow steady, stream.
If using immediately, put all the pesto into a large bowl big enough to toss all the pasta in. Use the pasta of your choice; spaghetti or linguine, or even a short pasta works well. Cook pasta until al dente. Shortly before the pasta is done, ladle 1/2 cup of the boiling pasta water into the bowl, and stir to warm and loosen the pesto. Toss the pasta and sauce together and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated Parmigano cheese.
To store and use the pesto later. Scrape the pesto from the food processor into a small jar or container. Smooth the top surface, and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil or a piece of plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. Refrigerate for a week, or freeze for several months; warm to room temperature before using.
To freeze into cubes eliminate walnuts from recipe. Transfer the paste into ice cube trays. When frozen, pop them out and store in zip-top freezer bags. Add one cube (or more if you prefer) to your simmering sauce. As the cube melts into the sauce, you immediately get the fragrance of the fresh basil as if you just picked it. They last me all winter long, depending on how many times you make your gravy.