There’s something about walking outside in 60 degree weather after what seems like an endless winter that just makes you sigh with relief. At least that’s how I felt this weekend when I emerged from the warm comforts of our house only to realize the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and there was nothing I wanted more than to stay outside. With the hope of spring in the air, I began what you could call a “mini-cleaning session” of the kitchen freezer and pantry. I went through frozen package after package of fish fillets and a sausage roll from about a year ago. It was at this point that I came across several bags of ice cub frozen pesto shoved into the deepest corners of my freezer. Remember last summer’s slew of tomatoes and basil from my home-grown garden? Well, just as I preserved the tomatoes in jars and containers, I also found a clever way to preserve basil as pesto — I just forgot to share it with all of you. Whether you’re interested in freezing or just making a fresh pesto sauce, here’s a simple recipe anyone can cook.
● 5 cups fresh basil leaves
● 5 cloves garlic
● 1 1/4 cups pine nuts
● 3 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
● 2 1/2 cups grated Pecorino cheese
● Salt and pepper
1. Start by combining the basil leaves, garlic cloves and pine nuts in a food processor and blend until everything is combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything is combined and pulse until smooth. Take the lid off and add the Pecorino cheese into the mixture. Blend once more until the pesto becomes lumpy in texture but still stuck together.
2. With the lid back on the processor, keep the pulse going while you pour the extra virgin olive oil into the top as the mixture is spinning around. Keep adding the oil and pulsing the mixture until the pesto is creamy and smooth. Just add the salt and pepper for seasoning, pulse one more time and it’s done! The aroma these ingredients make is absolutely intoxicating. And the taste is divine. Not only could it go great on fish or chicken but pasta and rice. If you’re interested in preserving your basil for longer, read ahead on this nifty ice cube tray trick I found.
3. Set out two ice cube trays and pour the basil pesto mixture into each cube slot. Set the ice tray in the freezer and leave overnight or until the basil cubes have set. Using a butter knife, carefully slide it around each cube to loosen the pesto until it pops out. The cube may feel a little slimy to touch but trust me, it’ll stick together. Place the cubes in plastic baggies with the date they were made and expiration. I read they should last three months, but I think they could go longer. To reheat, just cook in a pan until it warms up and turns back into its sauce form. You may be able to microwave it, as well — it just depends on your preference.
And there you have it. Winter may be over, but it’s better late than never to share this delicious pesto-preserving recipe. Enjoy!