There aren’t many things I am sure of in my life. Change is constant. There are a few though. Music, books, sunshine and that I adore pretty much all things Italian. Especially Italian food. ti adoro. The simplicity, the rich flavours, the seasonality. Closely related is the other thing I know for sure. That there is no way I could ever possibly grow enough basil to satisfy my love for it. So imagine my happiness when one of my greatest friends who is studying at The Richmond Farm School gave me a tour and showed me their basil greenhouse. What a deliciously happy and odiferous place.
The day kept getting better when I learned that they operated a farm stand with The Sharing Farm Society. I bought bunch after bunch. We’ve been eating it now, but most of it is being saved for later in the form of pesto. It might sounds cliche, but when the cold weather hits and summer is a very far off memory, having a stash of pesto made from high summer basil can be a sanity saver.
Everyone has their own opinion about what makes the perfect pesto. Recipes are a dime a dozen. I won’t pretend to be the world authority on it (I’m sure there is a lovely Italian Nonna somewhere who holds that title) but mine is pretty darn good. At least in my kitchen, pesto often doesn’t even refer to something made with basil. I’ve made variations with arugula, nettles, peas, asparagus and even kale. I’ve added and subtracted different nuts, cheeses, oils and spices. The recipe below, if you can even call it a recipe, is my base. I make vats of it to freeze. Keeping lots on hand means that throughout the year I am able to add it as flavouring for eggs, in soups, on a pizza, chicken and of course with pasta. It is as simple as well, pesto.
The purists amongst you will notice I don’t add any sort of nuts or garlic. I have just found that too many people I know can’t eat nuts and that garlic when frozen tends to go bitter. Both ingredients though are easy to add in later. Here’s my way of preserving the taste of summer. Of course, you can eat it right away too.
Basic freezer pesto.
- 3 bunches fresh basil
- 1/2c. parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1/4c. romano cheese, finely grated
- 1/3-1/2c. high quality olive oil
* Ingredient amounts listed make approximately one ice cube tray (and a bit for tasting) worth of pesto.
Simply take your fresh basil, wash it and pat it dry.
Place basil, cheese and half the olive oil in a food processor.
Blend gently and if needed slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil.
Taste (testing purposes only!) and add more cheese or oil if necessary.
Spread the pesto in an ice cube tray, securely cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.