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Basil to Pesto

September 6, 2012


Most years I grow basil in my little herb garden. Towards the end of the summer, when they have grown big and mighty, I chop them down.

Sounds ruthless, I know, but it is for a good cause. Pesto.

I make a big batch, divide it into freezer safe containers, and on those days where I just want to pull my hair out, I reach into my freezer hunting for the meal’s savior. I by-pass the processed chicken nuggets that my wee people love and go straight for the pesto, which my wee people love even more!

Pesto takes about 15 minutes to make. If I can get four meals out of one batch, the return on that investment is so worth it to me!

Confession time: I killed all of my basil this year. Not once, but twice. I guess plants really do need water to grow. Thankfully, some sweet soul at the farmer’s market took better care of their basil than I did mine, so I paid them for their hard watering work, came home and made pesto.


Cube the parmesan (the good stuff) and put in food processor to grate until it resembles coarse crumbs. Remove from the food processor and set aside.

PestoWash and dry the fresh basil leaves. Remove the leaves from the stem and measure 5 cups of packed basil leaves.


Peel and rough chop five cloves of garlic.

PestoThrow garlic, pignolis, and walnuts into the food processor and pulse together 7-9 times.

PestoShould look minced like this. It will chop more when you blend with the basil.

PestoPack in the greens and sprinkle in salt and pepper.


With the food processory running, drizzle in the olive oil and allow it to puree until completely smooth. Or, if you’re like me and you like it a little bit chunkier, then stop the processor just before it is completely smooth. You can taste more of the individual ingredients this way.


Transfer basil mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the grated parmesan.


Use a measuring cup to make four 1 cup portions and store in freezer safe containers. Drizzle an extra layer of olive oil over the pesto to prevent freezer burn.

Some nights, I just need a quick fix. Because I’ve labored all day and don’t want to labor any more. Or we get home late. Or I don’t want to stretch my brain to make dinner. Take your pick. I always keep boxes of Barilla Plus Penne (not a paid advertisement, just plain, free, good advise) in my pantry because it is loaded with protein, fiber, and omega-3s. I cook the pasta in salted water, drain it, and stir in a thawed cup of this yummy pesto and perhaps some cooked frozen sweet peas with a little extra grated parmesan , and I have a complete meal for my family that is 100% satisfying.

If I really felt like I wanted to pull my hair out, I might have a glass of red wine with it too. One more reason to love pesto nights at our house.

  • 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 5 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
  1. Cut parmesan into large cubes and grate in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Remove grated parmesan from food processor, measure to make sure you have a sufficient amount, and set aside. Place garlic cloves, pine nuts, and walnuts in the food processor and pulse 7-9 times, or until it appears minced. Add basil leaves, salt, and pepper to the food processor. With the processor running, drizzle olive oil into the feed tube and puree until smooth. If you like bigger bits of basil then stop the processor before the mixture is completely smooth. Use immediately or store in freezer safe containers with an extra layer of olive oil on top.
  2. Tip: Can be stored in four 1 cup portion sizes, as 1 cup of pesto is a sufficient amount for a 16 ounce package of pasta. You may prefer smaller portion sizes for other uses/recipes.




















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