If you grow basil, it's telling you "do something with me!". And even if you don't grow basil, you can find an abundance at farmer's market, like Findlay Market and your local fresh air markets. Here's a pesto recipe that is easy and is a great keeper in the freezer. You will love having this on hand, especially in fall and winter. See my video on basil on my blog.
RITA'S FREEZER PESTO
Feel free to divide this in half, or double it!
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 stick unsalted butter (optional but good)
1/2 cup parsley leaves
4 cups basil leaves, packed
1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese or to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
With motor running, add garlic and nuts. Now add butter and process until blended. Add parsley and basil and pulse until chopped finely. Add cheese and blend again. Slowly add olive oil and process until well blended.
To store: Either fill ice cube tray sections, or use a small scoop or tablespoon and scoop out portions on a foil/waxed paper lined/permanent baking mat lined cookie sheet. Freeze until hard and place in freezer-safe containers. Use in pastas, pizzas, polenta (fabulous dolloped on top of polenta that you've cooked with a bit of garlic and Romano cheese), soups, stews, sandwiches, appetizers – you name it – pesto is good on just about anything!
To make "Pistou" - Leave the pine nuts out.
Variations: Use walnuts instead of pine nuts
Toasting Pine Nuts: Lay in single layer on cookie sheet. Bake at 325-250 until fragrant and golden, 7-10 minutes.
Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Crostini with Oregano
Preheat oven to 350. Brush French bread slices with olive oil on one side. Place in oven just until bread starts to color, about 3-5 minutes. Remove.
Spread a layer of pesto on each.
Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella.
Place thinly sliced tomatoes on top of cheese. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle very lightly with fresh minced oregano or dried oregano (use a light hand with oregano since it is strongly flavored). Sprinkle lightly with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Transfer sheet to oven and bake until bread is thoroughly heated and mozzarella starts to melt, about 5 minutes. Or run under broiler. Top with basil leaf, if desired and serve.
Simple Pesto Torta
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup pesto
Cut a double thickness of cheesecloth 12" square; moisten and wring dry. Smoothly line the inside of a 3 cup bowl or terrine, letting excess drape over edges.
In a food processor, combine cheese and butter and process until blended. Use a spatula to pack enough of mixture into mold to make a layer about an inch thick. Top with about 3 tablespoons pesto, extending it evenly to sides of mold. Repeat layers, ending with cheese, until mold is filled.
Fold ends of cloth over torta, pressing down gently. Refrigerate until form, about l hour. Invert onto serving plate and discard cheesecloth. Sprinkle pine nuts on top and garnish with basil. Refrigerate up to 4 days. Serves 8-10.
Pasta with Pesto and Tomatoes
Mix approximately 1/2 cup pesto with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss with one pound of boiled, short pasta which is still warm. If necessary, add more pesto.
Gently mix in several chopped tomatoes, if desired or half cup or so of chopped sun dried tomatoes packed with herbs and oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.
Tomatoes Stuffed with Angel Hair Pesto Pasta
6-8 tomatoes, hollowed out, leaving walls fairly thick and drained, upside down
Break 1/2 pound of angel hair pasta and cook. Meanwhile, mix 1/4 cup pesto with 1 tablespoon olive oil. While pasta is still warm, toss with pesto. Fill tomatoes and serve either warm or room temperature as a side dish.