Basil pesto is one of my favorite tastes of summer ~ even if today is the first official day of autumn!
The autumnal equinox occurred here last night at 10:29pm ET, and even us spring/summer gals have to move on officially to fall. We’ve had great luck with our 2nd basil planting, and as a last hurrah for summer time, I cut an armload on Sunday and brought it inside to make basil pesto.
As this is the last batch for summer, I had about 8 cups of basil and made a LOT of pesto in 2 batches. I’ll freeze some in ice-cube trays and pop it out into freezer bags for a taste of summer in the months ahead. The recipe can be scaled up or down depending on how much basil you have, but if you scale up, do make it in batches ~ that helps to maintain the right finished consistency.
This is a traditional basil pesto, but I do have one SCBD tip (small change, big difference) to share, to keep that summer fresh taste. But first, the ingredients ~~~
basil pesto ~~~
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, coarse chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarse chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon zested and juiced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pesto should have that fresh basil taste and be vibrant green. It can lose that taste and turn dark in the fridge or freezer. Here’s my SCBD tip to help keep the flavor and color ~ blanch the basil in boiling water for about 30 seconds,then shock it in an ice bath. Once you remove the basil from the ice bath, drain it very well in a colander and then squeeze it in a clean dish towel or several paper towels to remove any remaining water.
Once your basil is blanched, ice shocked and dried, it’s time to move on. Add the basil, garlic, nuts, cheese, lemon juice and zest to the food processor bowl and pulse or blend until just combined. It should resemble medium coarse crumbs. Then with the food processor running, stream the EVOO into the mixture until just combined. It should resemble a soft paste.
Add salt and pepper to taste, blend briefly and then adjust garlic and lemon if needed. The taste should be balanced ~ of course you will taste the basil first, but then the other flavors should be nicely balanced. And if you haven’t had lunch, a schmear on a piece of left-over garlic bread is heaven 🙂 .
The blanching/shocking, plus the lemon juice will really help to keep flavor and color. I put the finished basil in jars and covered the top with a shallow layer of EVOO to help seal the deal. It should keep at least a couple of weeks this way in the fridge. I will use some and freeze the rest before this long though.
I know, I know, you’ve made pesto already this summer, and all the other blogs are sharing yummy pumpkin spice recipes. I can’t help myself from holding on to the last tastes of summer! I’ll get to some more fall recipes before long. In the meantime, I also have some of the frozen base for my perfected Watermelon Mojito stashed in my freezer from the really good summer melons 🙂 .
I think I’ll have some basil pesto pasta and a watermelon mojito for dinner tonight. Take that fall! Ahh, summer ~ ’til we meet again ~~~