Making your own pesto is another great way to add flavor and enhance whole foods. Because good quality basil is available year round now – it’s doesn’t have to be just a summertime condiment. I use pesto year round in soups, stews, seafood, poultry, pork and vegetables. I also use it for dips, spreads, sauces, and salad dressings. This time of year I make it because I observe lent. This is amazing on halibut, swordfish, salmon, cod, or any shellfish either baked or pan seared. This recipe yields about 2 cups prepared. To make extra, to freeze in ice cube trays, double this recipe. It will maintain freshness for about 3 months frozen or up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I made this in a blender; you can also use a food processor.
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 Cups packed fresh basil leaves- stems removed do not use any leaves that have spots on them – it will taste bitter & use as much of the smaller leaves as possible- save the large ones for salads, sauces or soups.
5-6 medium size cloves of garlic whole & peeled
½ cup of raw pine nuts
The zest of an entire lemon – try not to get down to the white pith- it’s also bitter
½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of grated black pepper or to taste
If using a blender add olive oil first.
Then add the rest of ingredients. Pulse until everything is combined. If too thick – add more oil. See picture for consistency.
Taste it! Does it need salt or more pepper?
Like it spicy? Add ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
To preserve for Freezer:
Add to ice cube trays. Cover twice in plastic wrap. Freeze for 24 hours in trays. Once the pesto is frozen – transfer to freezer safe bags and/or containers. Keep as much air out as possible. One cube frozen is about 2 tablespoons thawed. If you are adding to soups, stews or sauces- no need to defrost. If making dips, dressings or marinades, let thaw at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator.