As the Texas drought gave no signs of relief we said our goodbyes to the tomato plants and all the other sad and wilty vegetables in our garden, but the basil still thrived. That was back in July when our backyard basil was still growing wild. Soon after though, we made a decision to stop watering. We simply couldn’t justify using that much water on our yard anymore. So I picked most of the basil and we said goodbye (for now).
While you can’t freeze basil, you CAN freeze pesto and use it throughout the year. Having a jar or 3 of pesto in the freezer makes me happy. My favorite is corn pasta, pesto, and roasted cherry tomatoes. But there are oh so many things you can do with pesto. AND oh so many ways you can make it. Here I made it fairly traditionally and pretty concentrated- that way, I can mix it up in a different way each time I make something with it: mix it into hearty soups, use it on pasta, toss it on roast veggies, or thin it out for salad dressing…
Traditional Basil Pine Nut Pesto
4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
3-4 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 tablespoons grated pecorino
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
I use a food processor, but if you want to go super traditional, you could use a mortar and pestle. Combine the basil, salt, and garlic in the processor and blend. While it’s running, add half of the olive oil. Add the pine nuts, half of the cheese, and blend on low. Using a rubber spatula, push the basil down and continue to blend, add the remaining cheese, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. It should be thick and creamy.
Something to note: I never cook the pesto, but rather warm it on whatever I’m serving. For example, when I make pasta, I strain the noodles and reserve a little of the cooking water. I toss the warm pasta with the desired amount of pesto, adding a little hot water as necessary to make it the right consistency.