Recipes @ Preserving Basil Pesto in the Freezer

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Preserving Basil Pesto in the Freezer

You can savor the bounty of summer basil by making pesto. Pesto is favored by Italians for its combination of ingredients: fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil. The freezer makes preserving this flavor-packed condiment even easier.

The next time you're looking for an alternative to tomato sauce for your pasta, or a topping for a piece of chicken, defrost some pesto for a quick and delicious way to enjoy the flavor of summer-grown basil.

Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • Coarse salt, for cooking water
  • 4 cups basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast pine nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 8 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let pine nuts cool slightly.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Wash basil leaves under cold running water. Prepare an ice water bath in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Place basil leaves in cooking water and blanch leaves for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer basil leaves to ice water bath to stop the cooking. Turn basil leaves out onto a kitchen towel and gently blot dry.
  3. Transfer basil leaves to the bowl of a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and garlic clove to food processor. Pulse until basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic are broken down. With the motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the feed tube and process just until the ingredients are combined.
  4. Use pesto immediately or store for future use. Fill half of an ice cube tray with pesto, transfer tray to freezer and freeze until the pesto is solid. Once frozen, remove the frozen pesto cubes from the ice cube tray and transfer to resealable freezer bags and store in the freezer until ready to use.
Tips: Store pine nuts in the freezer, rather than the pantry, to keep the nuts stable and to prevent them from going rancid in warm places. Blanching the basil leaves in boiling water will preserve the bright green color and prevent the pesto from turning brown.

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