I was so happy to have a bumper basil crop this summer after last year’s early demise of my basil plant. Actually, this year, we are growing a basil tree! So, what better thing to do with all of that basil besides make tons of fresh pesto and freeze it? I can’t think of a thing.
This a classic, simple pesto recipe. Perhaps the only non-classic thing I do is use walnuts in place of pine nuts. I’ve really, truly tried very hard to like pine nuts in a variety of recipes, but as it turns out, I just can’t stand the taste. Plus, as an added bonus, walnuts are much less expensive than pine nuts, so it totally works out.
Classic Basil Pesto
- 2 cups basil leaves, packed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
The beauty of pesto is that it is SO easy to make. The most annoying part of the whole process is taking the basil leaves off of the stems. Combine the basil leaves, garlic, cheese, and walnuts in a food processor. Run the food processor until everything is chopped into pretty small pieces and gets a pasty texture.
Pour olive oil through the spout on the top of the food processor with the processor running until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. I almost never use a full 1/2 cup of oil in my pesto because I like it to be a thicker texture, more like a spread than a sauce. But, the great thing about pesto is that it is easily customized! You can add more or less garlic, more or less or no cheese, different types of nuts – and it usually turns out pretty tasty no matter what you do.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you’re freezing your pesto, I recommend freezing it in small (1/2 cup or less) sized containers so that you can defrost one container at a time as you need it. I usually top my pesto with a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap before closing up the container to protect it from freezer burn, but if you’re going to use it pretty soon, there would be no need to do that.
Budget Breakdown: $2.07 for a full recipe of pesto
- Basil: free! The plant originally cost $6, and I think we’re going to get at least 3 huge batches of pesto out of it, not to mention all of the other awesome summer foods that basil makes better (think caprese salad, margherita pizza, pasta salad, etc). I’m pretty sure one big bunch of basil costs $3 at the farmer’s market, so I consider our investment in the basil plant to be a money-maker.
- Parmesan: $1.13
- Garlic: $0.30
- Olive Oil: $0.64 (for a 1/2 cup)