we heart pesto.

7 Sep

Pesto Pasta

Pesto, one of my favorite foods in the world, is sadly misunderstood by many Americans. First, its actual Italian pronunciation in Italian is “pay-sto,” which sounds much more flavorful than the common Americanization. Second, in restaurants you will often find your pesto sauce choked with cream, cheese, and other fillers but don’t be fooled! The traditional recipe contains no cream, only a little parmesan, and truly allows the basil to sing.

Below is a recipe that is easy to make and will keep you stocked for months. It is commonly used as a pasta sauce, but it can also be used to spread on sandwiches, as a marinade, an addition to burritos, a sauce for pizza, in salad dressings, or an addition to other sauces.

Simple Pesto

Set up.

The following proportions make about 2 cups of pesto. I put double this amount in the blender and made about 5 batches total.

A note on finding basil: DO NOT buy basil in the little boxes at the grocery store. You will not be able to get enough and it will be outrageously expensive. To find enough, you will probably have to go to a farmers’ market or natural foods store. I got approximately 10 large bunches, but you can get more or less depending on how much you want.

2 cups fresh basil (tightly packed).
1/2 cup olive oil.
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
1/2 cup nuts. (The traditional ingredient, pine nuts, are expensive so I used sunflower seeds in the actual recipe and saved my pine nuts for sprinkling on top.)

Picking pesto.

Set your cheerful slaves to work removing the basil leaves from the stems. Thanks guys!

Wash and dry the basil.

Rinse the basil and dry it either by laying it out on newspaper or running it through a salad spinner.

Combine ingredients.

Combine basil, oil, salt, garlic, and nuts/seeds in the preceding proportions.

Blend ingredients.

Blend until sauce is finely chopped, but not puréed. You will need to manually push larger leaves down towards the bottom, just make sure not to get your spatula caught in the blades!

Pour out pesto and fill ice cube trays.

Combine all your batches into a large bowl and stir to ensure consistency. Spoon pesto into ice cube trays. When full, smooth over with a spatula.

Freeze trays.

Freeze trays for at least 48 hours.

Remove pesto cubes.

When fully frozen, pry cubes out of tray and store in freezer bag labeled with the date.

Perfect pesto!

Next time you're jonesin' for some pesto, pop a cube or two in the microwave and toss with pasta. Make sure to top with a pine nuts and a liberal applications of fresh parmesan.

[printer-friendly instructions]

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2 Responses to “we heart pesto.”

  1. Beth September 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    This is a great mainstay to have on hand. You can turn out a delicious dinner in 10 – 15 minutes with this on hand, just add some veg and fruit on the side. It ends up costing just pennies per cube, and end of summer is the best time to consider setting aside a day to get it all done!

    • Stephenie Gold September 10, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

      Hey, that’s how I make baby food! 🙂 This is a great idea, will do this week. Thanks Lorraine and slaves.

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