AskChefDonna

This week I was fortunate to receive two beautiful bins of freshly picked basil from our farm here at Stony Point Center. As most cooks know, there is nothing like having a freezer filled with delicious pesto sauce. Some of our followers have basil growing in their gardens. Others will find it in abundance in their local farmers market or grocery store. No matter where you get it from, making pesto can be a lot of fun. It's fast, easy and no cooking is involved. You can use basil pesto for so many dishes; the list is endless. I suggest a few uses in the section "Ideas on how to use." 

The versatility of having fresh basil pesto in your freezer can enhance almost any savory dish any time you need it. Although traditionally prepared with pine nuts, I made my pesto with whole unsalted almonds. I've made it with walnuts and pecans in the past and it has always tasted delicious. In the section "It's Your Dish, " I provide ideas for substitutions to suit your dietary needs and preferences. Whether you make it yourself or buy it frozen from the farmstand at Stony Point Center, I hope you enjoy the delicious and plentiful basil growing this time of year. 

And of course, if you have any cooking questions, I'd love to hear from you. Please email Chef Donna at askchefdonna@stonypointcenter.org with questions about this recipe or any other meal-prep, cooking questions!    

 

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Fresh Basil Pesto

Yields:  (approx. 3 / 8-ounce containers) 

 

Ingredients 

  • Approx. 6 cups fresh basil leaves (3 handfuls) 
  • 10 cloves fresh garlic 
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan 
  • 1 cup olive oil 
  • 1/2 cups whole almonds 
  • 4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed or from concentrate) 
  • 1 cup of water 

You will need a food processor

 

 

Let’s get Cooking  

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processer. 
  2. Blend until a smooth paste. 
  3. Enjoy some now...Freeze the rest for later. 

 

Notes 

You can store fresh pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can freeze it for up to 6 months. If you freeze it in an ice cube tray or several small containers, you can take out a little at a time as needed. 

‘It’s your dish!’ Substitutions and additions to make it your own  

  • Substitute the almonds for any kind of nut or a combination of nuts. 
  • Substitute the almonds for sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. 
  • To make it vegan, substitute the cheese for nutritional yeast. You may not need as much nutritional yeast as the quantity of cheese. It has a powerful flavor and might overpower the pesto. Play with the recipe and see how you like it. 
  • You can spice up your pesto by adding curry, hot pepper flakes, hot sauce cumin, artichoke hearts or olives. 
  • You can substitute fresh parsley for some of the basil. This not only saves money if you are buying the basil, but the chlorophyll in the parsley will make your pesto a beautiful, bright green. 

 

"Ideas On How To Use"

  • As a pasta sauce
  • Use it to flavor any vegetable, meat or starch
  • As the base of homemade salad dressing
  • Add it to mayonnaise as a sandwich spread 
  • Add it to your favorite hummus recipe