If you were to peek into our freezer in January, you would find several recycled cottage cheese or miso containers labeled and dated Pesto; from this summer’s harvest they will read Pesto 2009. I dip into the tubs for pasta sauce, as seasoning for soup and the times when an interesting recipe calls for fresh herbs and I don’t have any.
Stashing a bit of frozen pesto is the most squirrel-like thing I do. And because I use a food processor there is very little time involved–the work is in stripping the basil leaves off the stems. Purists be appalled, but any flavor or texture nuance lost by not using the traditional mortar and pestle is more than made up for with timesavings. You say it still seems like too much work and you can buy pesto in jars at the store—to me that is like saying dried parsley or cilantro, or basil, is an adequate substitute for the fresh leaf.
Here in Park City the sports shops have all the summer gear on sale and over Labor Day weekend they switched over—to skis, boots and winter clothing. I’m getting ready for winter in the kitchen; I’m stocking my pesto larder using the fresh basil in this week’s CSA box. I like this recipe—it calls for more garlic and less olive oil than many. In the middle of winter, a dollop of basil pesto reeking of garlic will bring a rich punch to our dinner. Today, harvest day, I’ll make basil pesto around dinner hour, reserving a little of the emerald opulence. I’ll mix it with an equal amount of pasta water, making sauce for pasta just boiled.
2 large garlic cloves
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, broken in pieces or already grated (don’t even think of using that sawdust in the green can)
2 cups tightly packed, stemmed fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts to be extravagant)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add the ingredients in the order directed for efficient use of the food processor. With the motor of the food processor running, mince the garlic by dropping it through the feed tube. Process until it is very fine. Add the cheese, basil, walnuts and salt. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping to move things around if they get hung up. With the machine running, pour oil through the feed tube in a thin stream, processing until everything is well blended.
Makes about 1 cup. Scrape into small containers immediately and freeze. To use in winter, thaw the pesto only enough so you can scrape some out.