Pesto Fresh Basil Tips and Recipes

I am fortunate enough to be able to grow fresh herbs all year long. Here are some great suggestions to use fresh basil. You can preserve it in the freezer for later use in many ways. Read on.

Freezing the basil is an excellent way to do this. Not only will it keep it fresher than dried basil, you are able to keep it for longer periods of time. There are many recipes that call for fresh basil as opposed to dried basil, so you may want to consider freezing some to have on hand when your recipe calls for it. Before freezing the basil make sure that you wash the leaves thoroughly.
Just like drying basil, there are many ways to freeze basil too. Basil is a delicate leaf that can be ruined easily so you want to take caution in finding a way that works best for you. The first recommended is to place your basil in an ice cube to be frozen. You should take about 1 teaspoon of basil and add it to unfrozen water in your ice cube trays.
You can then freeze several of these until you're ready to use the basil, just take out the ice cube and add it to whatever recipe you are making. The water will evaporate, leaving just the fresh taste of fresh basil to spice up your recipe. This works especially well with homemade stews, sauces and other dishes high in liquids.
Another popular method is to throw the leaves into a food processor with enough oil to make a thick or thin paste depending on your taste preference. You then put the paste in seal a meal bag and place them flat in the freezer.
When you are ready to use the paste you can break off a piece and put it into the recipe. You would want to use this for dishes that have some form of liquid in it, such as a sauce, stews, casseroles, soups, or salad dressings. Keep pesto on hand when your in a hurry which is a mixture of basil, oil and nuts, it also stores well in the freezer.  
Another basic method for freezing basil is by placing it on parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and putting it in the freezer, my mom use to use this method all the time. After they are completely frozen you can take the leaves and put them in a seal a meal bag or something air tight like a freeze bag. Freezing basil works well and there is no waste.

Italian Basic Basil Pesto Recipe

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts or combine below suggestions 1/4 cup each (for a real nutty flavor I like to toast mine first)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 large cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process to a fine paste. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over your favorite cooked pasta or freeze the sauce for a later time.

Pesto Combinations and Suggestions:
Use half Pine nuts with 1/4 cup below suggestions of nuts:
Basil and Walnuts
Basil and Pistachios
Basil and Pecans
Basil and Macadamia
Basil and Almonds
See above for using the same exact instructions and basil amounts.


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