Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fresh Garden Pesto

This week we had our first "harvest" from our garden. Our basil was in full effect and begging to be turned into pesto...I was more than happy to oblige! I totally recommend EVERYONE have a herb garden. They don't take up much space and they are so cost effective. I purchased each of my basil plants for $3.50 (about what a small container of fresh basil costs at the market) and they will continue producing fresh leaves all summer long.  Not only is basil great for pesto, but it's fabulous with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, on sandwiches and burgers instead of lettuce and is a regular ingredient in most Italian meals.

Pesto is super easy to make. The best part is that you don't have to be exact. You can adjust to your own tastes and preferences.


  • Fresh basil
  • 1/4cup toasted pine nuts/almonds/walnuts (**we are a nut free house so I use roasted sunflower seeds instead. The sunflower seeds tend to have a stronger flavor so I usually use less and add more if needed)
  • Garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Lemon Zest (optional)
  • Lemon Juice (optional)**I may be breaking some cooking law by adding the lemon juice and zest, but I like the flavor it gives and it's my pesto and I'll lemon-it if I want too!
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Put basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest in food processor. For a large batch of pesto I usually use the zest from one lemon and half of it's juice. Add a little at a time and taste as you go.
Pulse until chopped
While the food processor is running drizzle in 1/3-1/2 cup EVOO until the pesto is the consistency you want. 
Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Pesto freezes really well. I put mine in small freezer bags. If you lay them flat in the freezer they stack really well and defrost easily. A little pesto goes a LONG way so I usually put about a 1/4-1/3 cup in each bag. Most recipes recommend freezing in small containers and floating EVOO on the top to prevent browning, but I have never had a problem with the pesto turning brown.
Pesto is great on pasta, chicken, or as an appetizer with goat cheese and crackers. My girls love it and are always asking for the "green sauce" on their pasta.


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