Saturday, June 28, 2008

Presto Pesto

Presto: Pesto!

According to my Local Food Wheel, basil is in season so I went to the farmers' market this Tuesday and bought about ten bunches as well as some garlic for pesto.

Home made pasta pesto is one of my favorite meals, unfortunately basil has a very limited season. While I have heard of freezing extra pesto in ice cube trays it takes up a lot of space and suffers from freezer burn if you keep it for very long that way. In college I discovered a better method: plastic zipper bags!

With approximate measurements here is my recipe for pesto:

5 bunches basil (about $1.50 each at your local farmers' market in the summer)
2 to 4 ounces of Romano cheese (cut into big cubes is fine)
1/2 cups pine nuts, slightly browned
5+ cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Olive oil to taste (about 1 cup)

Using a blender or a food processor puree all the basil and begin adding olive oil. The pured basil will taste a little like lawn clippings, add olive oil slowly tasting frequently. The mixture will lighten in color and as soon as it no longer tastes like lawn clippings and begins tasting like pesto you have enough oil. Now add the salt, pepper, pepper flakes, pine nuts, garlic cloves and chunks of cheese. Puree the rest of these ingredients and your are done!

Spoon the mixture into zipper bags so that when spread flat they lay about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick. Lay the zipper bags flat directly on the rack of your freezer (you put your frozen foods right on top while the pesto freezes). Freezing the pesto against the rack means that it will freeze in segments (which are usually about one serving each) which can be broken off any time during the year for a pesto dinner.