Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I don't know if there are still copious amounts of basil out there just waiting to be pulverized, I sure hope so, but I am crazy about homemade pesto and I've had these pictures for weeks. I'm finally getting around to posting them! This is a great recipe for pesto and a great idea for preserving it so you can enjoy it all year round. I can't take credit for either. I got the recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and the idea (and the basil) from Velda Salt.
First things first: you need A LOT of basil. Don't plan on buying it from the grocery store- it would cost a fortune. Either purchase it from your local farmer's market or plan to grow your own next year. I got enough to make a double batch a month ago and spent about 8 dollars. Second, you must have a food processor.
Here's the best recipe you will ever find for pesto! Truth is, I've never really tried anything else.


1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Now for Velda's great idea. Fill two ice cube trays with your pesto. Freeze pesto overnight, then remove from ice cube trays and keep in freezer bags. Pesto stays good all year! (I think, mine never makes it that long.)

Here's a delicious recipe from my friend Natalie. I LOVE this recipe. It's easy, delicious, and not that bad for you!

Pesto-Coated Baked Chicken

2-3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1/4 c + 1 T prepared pesto
1 1/2 tsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
1 T shredded Parmesan (but I ended up using about 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella)
1 T pine nuts (used more of these too)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Combine pesto, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Brush over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts. Bake 10-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.


Jane said...

Thanks for this recipe, looks like I will be growing basil next year. I LOVE pesto!!

Sheryl said...

I love pesto, but have never made it myself...I love the idea to store it, and I love your recipe for the chicken. Russell will love it. Congrats to Bobby!! and Happy Birthday to Sophie!

Melissa said...

I love this pesto recipe. It is the one I use as well. I recently made a fabulous pesto pizza with this pesto spread generously on top, lemon and thyme chicken (also your recipe), sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parmesean cheese and thinly sliced red onion. Divine.

Cameron & Ashley said...

I just wanted you to know that I love reading your blog! You're like my hero, or my idol... I hope that's not creepy :) I just admire you and everything you do! I can't belive with 2 kids you still do so much!! I can only hope someday I'll have that kind of energy :)

Kelly said...

I think I might actually be able to try this recipe. Of course, I'll be using the pesto I bought from the grocery store. But yours looks good!

Maggie said...

Mmm I love pesto

Lacey Guy said...

That looks great! I love pesto! BTW, I had a dish at Il Spazio with "Mexican" pesto. It had Cilantro, Peanuts, and Lime in it instead of basil, pine nuts and lemon. Very good and different!

Sara said...

I had great luck with basil in my garden this year, so I've been making a ton of pesto and stashing it away in the freezer. There's a recipe in the everyday food cookbook that uses pesto with pasta, green beans and potatoes, it's really good. Giada also has a butternut squash and pesto gratin recipe that's great.

Rebecca said...

Your yummy post made me remember that we got 10 lbs of basil from the Salts 2 years ago. I Do love pesto A LOT, but I had pesto cubes in my freezer for 2 years... :) In retrospective 5 lbs would have been enough. :)I miss the cheap basil from the Salts.

DeGooyer Family said...

Looks yummy! This is exactly how I freeze my basil - and in freezer bags, it lasts a long time.

Ashley said...

Pesto gives me good memories. First of all, it ALWAYS reminds me of you. Then that one time I ran into you at the grocery store and asked you where the canned pesto was--I think you were tempted to not tell me so I'd have to make it from scratch. And then that other time J opened your freezer and said "Dude, what's wrong with your ice cubes!"

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