Saturday, October 25, 2008

Show & Tell: Puttin' Up Pesto

Two weeks ago, I was questioning my decision earlier in the summer to plant more basil plants. Cold weather was moving in and frost was imminent. I had a daunting amount of basil to put up, so I played hookie from work on a Friday to beat the frost. I had already spent four hours the week before putting up two and a half large basil plants. I had seven and a half plants left to go. I thought maybe I had over done basil-mania this year. Luckily, some of the plants hadn't grown to bush size. Still, it took me another seven hours to put up all my basil. I was so sick of basil after that, I didn't think I would want to eat it for months, but I am appreciating it now.

I freeze all my basil. Dried basil just does not do justice to it's wonderful flavor. Either I make pesto or I grind up basil in just olive oil. I like to do the latter in ice cube trays, so if a recipe calls for basil, I pop a cube in from the freezer and get the same wonderful fresh summer basil taste in the middle of winter.

To do this is pretty easy. Fill a food processor with fresh basil leaves that do not have any moisture on them. Grind them up. Then add olive oil and finish blending. Sometimes I will add salt and garlic to the basil cubes.

Basil in ice cube trays prior to freezing

After the basil cubes have frozen, I like to add a little more olive oil on the top to seal the basil in. After the top layer of olive oil has frozen, take the ice cube trays out, run a little bit of hot water on the bottom to release the cubes, taking care not to get water on your basil cubes, and pop them out. If you wait for them to thaw, they do not come out of the ice cube trays as neatly, so use the hot water method while everything is frozen. Bag them up quickly to put back in the freezer, as the olive oil melts fast.

Final result. Note yellow on top of cubes is frozen olive oil.

I made a total of four ice cube trays worth of basil and pesto, plus three pint sized containers of pesto. Last year, I ran out of basil in January. I'm hoping to go a little longer this year.

If you want some instruction on how to cook pasta to go with that pesto, the Italian way, my buddy over at Geeks in Rome will give you the low-down in her post "You can call me Al...Dente". Look for future posts from me on homemade gluten-free pasta!

Join the rest of the class at Mel's Show & Tell

14 comments:

Lori said...

This is the best smelling post I've read all day. I love basil.

Maybe I'll be inspired to do the same next year. Great idea.

Another Dreamer said...

That is so interesting, I never thought of doing anything like that. Cool!

(btw, my CAPTCHA letters say "tents"... how odd.

Kristin said...

Wow...thats a lot of basil you put up. Is there anything special you have to do to grow it or is it easy to grow?

battynurse said...

Fascinating. I'd heard of freezing your herbs like ice cubes but had I been left to my own devices I would end up with frozen cubes of water with lonely leaves inside. Thanks for the how to. Now if I ever try it I just might get it right.

Delenn said...

Very cool!! Smart thinking.

Lost in Space said...

Very cool idea. I realize what a lazy cook I am after seeing this. (:

Thanks so much for all the great info in your comment on my post. You nailed so many of my concerns with this stuff. I still have alot to think about. I'd love to meet up next time we are there. (:

Rachel said...

Wow. Now THAT is COOL! Does your ice cube tray make basil flavored ice cubes after that?

Still, yum... haven't yet decided what to make for dinner here, and this is making my hungry...

~ Rachel

Sam said...

Pesto is lovely stuff isn't it, it goes beautifully under the tomato paste on a pizza!

Emily (Apron Strings) said...

Okay, I admit it. I am NO chef. (Actually, I rarely find myself in the kitchen unless it's to get candy from the pantry ...) But this is most definitely a very cool idea! Here from Show & Tell.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Mmmm, I just froze some basil last week. Though I freeze it in water in ice cube trays. And then drop it directly into the pot of pasta sauce.

JuliaS said...

Wish the peeps around my chicken pen like pesto as I do. :0(

I tried an herb garden this year and it was a dismal failure.

I will definitely be checking back on the pasta recipes!

Cindy Nguyen said...

Hi, I saw your comment on Brenda's blog about the HGH Saizen. I'm doing IVF #2 and my Doctor added this to my protocol this time. I've tried researching it but can't find very much info on it. I've also written about it on my blog and posted it on fertility friend, but so far I haven't been able to find anyone else taking it, until now! I'm taking 40 units every other day during the stim phase. What did you take? What were your thoughts on it? Did you have better egg quality?

geeksinrome said...

drool :)- you can never have too much pesto!!
have you ever tried freezing just the leaves? I was wondering if there is any way to do it so they don't look so nasty?

Phoebe said...

Dear Geeks in Rome,

I'm assuming your drive by was at the laudromat in the short time between wash and dry. I encase the leaves in olive oil to keep them from oxidizing (the looking nasty part). Hence the reason I top off the basil ice cubes with a bit more olive oil to seal them in. I haven't tried Lollipop Goldstein's method of doing the same but with water. I just love olive oil. I think the stuff runs through my veins. My parents used to buy it by the gallon when I was a kid. But I digress...