8.08.2012

Recipe Wednesday: Homemade Pesto and What to Do With It

I have a thing about wasting basil.  I hate to do it, but somehow it used to happen ALL. THE. TIME.  I used to buy the packaged basil they sell at the grocery store, but I could never use it all before it went bad, which happened surprisingly quickly.  Then I got wise and for even cheaper, I'd buy a basil plant to keep in my window-- perfect, right?  Just pluck off the leaves when I need them?  Well, you're assuming I can actually keep plants alive.  So that failed.  Then Bestie Jr.'s husband showed up at the door with a big sprig of home-grown basil, as big as the plants I used to buy.  They were my ride, and in my haste to get out the door, I stuck it in a glass of water.  And it lasted over a week, allowing me to make bruschetta and flatbread pizza.  However, we were about to leave on our three-week vacation, and I still had several good leaves of basil that I just couldn't waste.  

I decided to try my hand at pesto, and then freeze it for a later use.

It was a success!  It was easy to throw together and when I wanted it, I broke it up in a pan on medium heat and let it melt, mixing it with an Alfredo sauce.  It made an absolutely delicious sauce for our pasta and chicken!

I didn't really follow a recipe.  I took out my food processor, and after rinsing the basil and spinning it in the salad spinner, I tossed the leaves in.  I didn't have any pine nuts, but I did have slivered almonds hanging out in my freezer.  So I tossed some of those in.  I didn't add too many, because I knew I could always add more.  This is how I cook-- I experiment and don't measure.  It's annoying for those who need specific measurements, but it's freeing and fun and builds your cooking instincts, so I recommend it!

I added lots of freshly crushed garlic (I use my glorious Pampered Chef garlic press)-- about three cloves, and then of course, olive oil.  Next was some salt and pepper.  I was light handed with everything, because I only had so much basil, and I knew if I over-did it, it would be ruined.  I ran those things around in the processor until the almonds were in really little pieces and it had formed a green paste.  It was fairly thick, and smelled wonderful!  I put the mix in an airtight container, and a few weeks later, it was perfect!

If you really need a pesto recipe, they're not hard to find.  But I encourage you to experiment, and don't let those basil leaves go bad again!

One recipe that looks similar (although this includes cheese) can be found here.

Well anyway, happy basil-ing.  From one sprig, we had bruschetta chicken, Margherita flatbread, and chicken pesto pasta.  All healthy, all flavorful, and all easy!  

xoxo, A