Basil Pesto for Freezing
The good news about growing fresh basil in the ground as compared to growing it on patio planters is that if you tend it well during the hot weather season you will have abundant amounts of fresh basil for preparing and freezing pesto at summers end.
I’ve been freezing basil pesto for many years and with a few simple ingredients, you can accomplish this easily using just a couple sheets of freezer paper. Since freezer paper tends to roll up upon itself I pre-cut eight-inch squares. Once your fresh basil pesto is prepared you simply spoon around a tablespoon or more into the center, fold it up like a package, tape it with a little freezer tape, label, and freeze.
Over the cold winter months, you can use your basil pesto packets in soups, stews, pasta, and of course, as a perfect starter for your tomato sauce.
You can defrost your frozen basil pesto in the refrigerator or lightly thaw in the microwave. For dishes that are already at a very hot temperature, such as a soup or a stew, you can even use a sharp knife, cut it into smaller pieces and drop your little pieces of frozen pesto right into the pot and stir as it begins to thaw.
According to the Dictionary Pesto is defined as ” a sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, typically served with pasta.”
Wikipedia shares the recipe ingredients similarly with the inclusion of salt. The origin of Pesto as described originated in Genoa, Italy which is the capital city of Liguria.
Today we use pesto in many varied dishes and in creative ways.
Many years ago when preparing my end of summer basil pesto I was out of pine nuts and I couldn’t find them at the local market. Well, I had already picked all of the basil, chopped the garlic, and shredded the fresh Parmesan cheese. I prepared the pesto without the pine nuts and found that I actually liked it better. Then as the price of European pine nuts raised astronomically I then began preparing my basil pesto without the pine nuts, or with only a small batch that contained them. I prepared today’s recipe without the pine nuts. You can decide on your preference or in adhering to the origins of Italian tradition.
If you’ve tended well the fresh basil in your garden over these hot weather months then a quick and easy project is readily at hand. You may even have plenty for sharing. Enjoy the pickings, and especially the tasty flavors of basil pesto in the season ahead.
Basil Pesto for Freezing
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 4 1/2-5 cups fresh basil
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
- couple pinches coarse kosher salt plus more according to taste
- 8 x 8-inch cut squares of freezer paper
- Pulse garlic in the bowl of a food processor, add in the fresh basil and pulse to small bits. Add in the Parmesan cheese, pulse, then drizzle in the olive oil pulsing a few times to blend thoroughly. Sprinkle in the salt, stir, check flavor and adjust seasoning according to taste.
- For Freezing: Cut 8 x 8-inch squares of freezer paper. Spoon a tablespoon or more of the pesto into the center of each square then fold up, apply a bit of freezer tape if desired, then simply label and freeze
- For Defrosting: Thaw pesto in the refrigerator or briefly in the microwave. Alternatively, use a sharp knife and cut frozen pesto into small pieces and drop directly into hot soups, sauces, or stews gradually stirring throughout