Friday, July 13, 2012

Basil Pesto and Freezing Herbs

We made fresh basil pesto on Sunday for our B.L.T. pizza and turkey sandwiches this week, but we still had some leftover. 

Now normally I would have put the leftover pesto in a bowl and said "we will for sure use this for something else soon". Well that never happened and it would end up in the trash....huge waste of money considering how expensive basil and pine nuts are! 

Then I read a great article on preserving herbs and thought I can do this with my pesto sauce as well! Save money and cut back on wasting food, awesome!

All you need to preserve the herbs or sauce is an ice cube tray, freezer bags, oil or water and you're good to go. 

I froze rosemary and thyme in olive oil, but I found it a tad difficult to just "pop" them out like the website had stated. I found myself banging ice trays on the counter top like a mad woman trying to get them out! After about 10 minutes and half the olive oil melted I had gotten all of the now misshapen cubes out, threw them in a bag and back into the freezer. They may not have looked as pretty as I had hoped but they worked just the same. We took a few out of the bag and threw them in a bowl with some chicken, a little extra olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice and marinated it overnight...delicious the next day! 

I also froze cilantro, but decided this was something that would probably be better in just water. Herbs like cilantro and parsley are often used as garnishes or finishing ingredients. By freezing them in water I can just dry them off and have fresh garnishes right away! I also found that freezing in water was waaaay easier than olive oil. There was no banging on the counter with this round....which honestly was kinda fun for a few minutes!

As far as freezing the pesto, I just filled the ice cube tray with the remainder of the sauce and froze it over night. They took a little work as well to get out because of the oil, but they turned out fine! Now we can just take a cube or two and throw it over some hot pasta and have fresh basil pesto pasta in a jiffy! 

 Fresh Basil Pesto
pic via Real Simple Magazine
2 cups fresh basil leaves (Trader Joe's Organic Brand)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (the REAL stuff)
1/3 cup pignolia (pine) nuts (Trader Joe's has the best deal, refridgerate the remainder to keep them fresh)
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped (we tend to lean towards more garlic)
Salt and ground black pepper (optional) 

Add basil, garlic and pine nuts into a  food processor or blender and pulse several times. 
Turn the processor or blender to on and and add the olive oil in a slow stream. 
Then add cheese, pulse the processor or blender a few more times, add salt and pepper if desired.

And there you have it. Fresh Basil Pesto.

**To make basil pesto mayonnaise just combined 1/2 cup of pesto and 1/3 cup mayonnaise and mix it together...super simple!

Here's what I'll be reading up on over this relaxing weekend:
I can't wait to read this one. We recently started buying the real deal olive oil and boy can you see and taste the difference!  

Happy Weekend!

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