Introduction: Amie's Homemade Pesto
Homemade Pesto is the most awesome stuff ever. It's easy to make, easy to store and has a variety of uses.
You can mix it with pasta, saute with chicken or use it to garnish a steak.
Let me know in the comments what YOU use Pesto with!
Step 1: Basil
Getting the best, freshest Basil is the most important.
I actually have a "chair-full" of Basil (which is a re-purposed papasan chair, I should do another Instructable on that!) that is just about ready for picking but when I was at our local Farmer's Market this Saturday I found bunches of Basil for $1.00 a bundle and had to snatch some up!
I'll make more in a week or two with my Basil...
Note there is NO SALT in my recipe. Parmesan Cheese is pretty salty and each individual eater has different salt preferences and salt is usually available so people can salt to their own taste.
Step 2: Ingredients:
These portions made TWO BATCHES in my food processor which were frozen into 32 smaller single serve portions plus 16 ice cube size (2 portion) servings, 64 total single servings
This is my recipe, I usually just wing it each time I make it. There is no right way and no perfect portions in Pesto. It's all personal preference. Don't like garlic? Cut that back. Don't want to pay for Pine Nuts? Use Walnuts but you won't find those much cheaper either.
Remember this is for TWO BATCHES so the below quantities will be split between two rounds in your food processor!
5 small bunches fresh Basil, washed then leaves separated from the stems then washed again. Just use the leaves and do not include any flowers or buds. The quantity I had almost filled my standard colander and filled my Kitchen-Aid food processor 3/4 full, twice.
Whole head of Garlic, peeled and stem ends cut off, 10-12 cloves
8 ounces REAL Parmesan cheese, in chunks, not shredded*
1 cup Pine Nuts* (or you can use Walnuts)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese; PLEASE, none of the green tube kind! There is nothing in this world like real Parmesan cheese. You can find wedges of the real deal in your grocers dairy case and when you figure it out, it's not that much more expensive than the 'canned' stuff that has cellulose and who knows what other fillers in it (cellulose is wood fiber pulp...really there is wood in your pre-shredded cheese...not right). When you buy a block and grate it yourself you KNOW it's 100 percent real! For this recipe you don't even need to grate it. The Parmesan cheese I use is from Costco, from ITALY and $8.99 a pound (16 ounces). When you're paying $4.99 for an 8 ounce shaker of the wood pulp, you're paying more for fake crap....really!
Pine Nuts; Get your behind to Costco to buy these or have a friend that has a membership get them for you and split a bag. When I went looking at my neighborhood grocer the least expensive option was a 4 ounce package for $10. That's $2.50 an ounce! No way! At Costco I got a 24 ounce bag for about $24.00, That's $1.00 an ounce, two and a half times less expensive. Share a bag with a friend, Pine Nuts are fine frozen for months and are great added whole to other dishes or a few for a quick snack. Little pearls of creamy nutty goodness!
Step 3: Pulverizing
Make sure your food processor is clean. Use the large cutting blade in the bottom of the larger bowl.
Add 1/2 of your clean Basil leaves first. Add half (about 5 cloves) of the Garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of Pine Nuts and 4 ounces of the Parmesan cheese (broken up into a few chunks) on top of the Basil leaves.
Place the top on your food processor and while pulsing, drizzle 1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil through the hopper.
I like my Pesto chunky so I only use the pulse button. If you like it smoother you can turn the machine on for longer to pulverize everything smaller. Sometimes some leaves get caught up top so I'll stop the machine and use a spatula to push them down into the mix then pulse a few more times. If there's some bigger chunks of Basil that's OK, I think it adds to the visual cue that it's homemade and not store bought.
When it's the consistency you want, STOP, it's done! Using a spatula, turn out into a bowl.
Repeat the steps above with your remaining Basil leaves, Garlic, Pine Nuts, Parmesan and Olive Oil.
I do not recommend using a blender. To get all the leaves you'll end up with a paste instead of a nice chunky Pesto.
Step 4: Storing Your Pesto
Pesto can be frozen! As long as it's in an air-tight freezer bag it will last about six months or more. Last winter we were eating Pesto way past the Holidays.
I have some little silicone molds that I use for portioning up servings but old ice cube trays work just fine (you can get two cheap plastic ice cube trays for $1 at Dollar Tree). You could also freeze a block in wax or parchment paper then cut into chunks with a sharp knife.
Fill molds with Pesto and cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer.
Once frozen, pop the cubes out (or leave them in and use right from these molds) and store in a freezer bag with as much of the air removed as possible.
Step 5: Serving Ideas:
Pesto pasta: use 1 cube per serving of pasta. Prepare pasta, drain then return to cooking pot (un-rinsed) and add 1 frozen cube and stir until the cubes melt and cover pasta. Salt to taste.
Spaghetti sauce: (from scratch of course!) Throw in a cube or two of Pesto. It adds such a great kick of freshness!
Chicken Breasts: Cook two chicken breasts thoroughly in a frying pan with a little Olive Oil, salt & pepper at least 8 minutes per side. Once done, add 1 serving cube of Pesto to the top of each, let it melt, spread it over both sides and cook each side another 2-3 minutes on medium heat then serve immediately.
Steak: Once almost finished cooking (you're not going to flip it again) and it's still on the grill/pan add 1 serving cube of Pesto to the top and let the residual heat melt and serve as is.
Garlic Pesto Bread: Take 4 servings out of the freezer and let thaw for about 10 minutes. Using a loaf of French Bread, slice in half and open. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Kosher Salt. Spread Pesto evenly on each side of the loaf, sprinkle with shredded Parmesan Cheese, wrap in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 minutes. Slice into pieces and serve immediately.
6 years ago
I suggest you use more olive oil evo (extra vergine oliva).
And next time, do not use the blender, it burns the leaves and becomes more bitter.
Use a pestle and mortar! ;)
6 years ago
If you lightly toast all the pignolas when you get them, they will keep longer either in the freezer or an air tight container. Longer frozen. It's the oil in nuts that makes them go off flavor.Toasting them stops the process that makes them rancid.
Reply 6 years ago
Thanks Sheila! I'll do that with my leftover Pine Nuts! Thanks for the tip.
6 years ago
The best tasting pesro ive ever eaten! Detailed, easy to follow directions.