Preserving the fruits and vegetables of summer is a family tradition. I have always had a garden, sometimes large enough to grow a lot of produce, other times just a pot or two of herbs. In our current house, we have not been successful in growing tomatoes, but our herbs are doing well.
First stop on the summer preservation tour: Pesto
I don’t make pesto by any of the recipes that call for pine nuts and parmesan. As delicious as that sounds, I use pesto in a variety of ways and may not always want those ingredients. You can always add them at the time you prepare your dish. (Think pasta tossed with pesto, walnuts and parmesan cheese)
Here’s how I do it
Snip, wash, and dry the basil in a salad spinner. Pick the leaves and shoots off the woody stems Stems smaller than a coffee stirrer are good. Buds are good, but don’t use the flowers. And don’t put any brown shriveled leaves in there.
Pack the basil leaves into a 1 quart measure, and put in a food processor along with 6-8 cloves garlic. Start the processor and add olive oil as the processor whirls. Stop occasionally and scrape the sides. Add more oil as needed. Your goal is to have a product about the consistency of hummus. It will be a beautiful green shade. Spoon into small jars, cap and freeze. If you want more explicit instructions, click here, just remember I skip the parmesan and pine nuts. When I want to use it, I put one of the jars in the microwave for 20 seconds or so and scrape off what I need and refreeze. You could put it in ice cube trays and freeze. The amount pictured below was made from four quarts of basil. I use it as an alternative spread for pizza, I add a couple of tablespoons to vegetable soup, I add it to omelets, I stir it into pasta. It makes a fantastic sandwich with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. (especially yummy when grilled on a George Foreman grill) You can add more oil and drizzle it over fish or chicken. It makes everything taste so fresh and wonderful. Click here for an abundance of ways to use it.