End of Summer Pesto Recipes to Help Stock the Freeze

The recipe for pesto are so versatile. Do not be afraid to make your own

The recipe for pesto are so versatile. Do not be afraid to make your own

As summer takes its final bow, I find that I am left with armloads of parsley and basil still overtaking the garden beds.  Not wanting these beautiful herbs to go out with the cold, it is time to head into the kitchen to make ‘freezer’ pesto to tuck away for a cold winter’s day when a reminder of summer’s glorious bounty will be sorely needed. 

Thankfully, the definition of pesto (which means crushed) has relaxed these days with everything from unusual herbs to vegetables being tossed into the blender.  Pesto is being transformed everywhere. No longer does the standard basil and pine nut variety own the spotlight but rather pesto is being whipped up with anything from broccoli rape to kale to beets.  Throw in a hearty cheese and a nut to your liking and a pesto is born. 

To freeze pesto, simply stop before adding in the cheese.  Line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap. Fill each cube with the pesto. Freeze until hard.  Pop out the cubes and store in a freezer bag. When you are ready to use, simply thaw. Add in the cheese and a bit of olive oil.  And voila – pesto at the ready! 

Below are a few of my favorite ‘green’ versions but the recipes for pesto are so versatile. Change up the nuts or the greens or the cheese.  If too thick, thin it wil more olive oil or pasta water.  Like garlic? Add in another clove.  Cheesier? More cheese. Do not be afraid to make it your own!

The uses for pesto are almost endless. All winter long my pesto cubes are thawed to grace the likes of pasta hot or cold, as a dip, mixed with steamed or roasted potatoes or other veggies, slathered atop pizza, spread onto a sandwich, drizzled over a piece of roasted or grilled fish.  The list goes on….

Enjoy the last gasps of summer and keep a batch or two of pesto cubes in your freezer to remind you of this so very sweet time of year. Buon appetito!

Michele

Parsley PestoParsley Pesto

Parsley Almond Pesto

Ingredients:

·½ cup unsalted almonds

·1 clove garlic

·2 cups packed flat-leaf parsley, leaves and thin stems only

·½ cup grated Parmesan

·¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

·Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground. Add in the garlic, parsley and Parmesan and process into smooth.

With the machine running, add the olive oil in a stream and process until smooth.  

Season pesto with salt and pepper.

If tossing with pasta, reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water and add to the pasta to thin as necessary.  Adjust seasonings. 

Arugula Basil PestoArugula Basil Pesto

Arugula, Basil and Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

·½ cup walnuts

·3 cups arugula, loosely packed

·3 cups basil, loosely packed

·1/4 cup grated Parmigiano

·¼ cup grated Pecorino

·1 tablespoon lemon zest

·2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

·1 cup extra virgin olive oil

·Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Allow to cool.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (You can use this water to cook pasta, if using, after you blanch the greens.) Blanch arugula for 10 seconds. Using a spider or large slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to an ice bath. Let cool. Remove the arugula from the ice bath and squeeze excess water from the leaves.

Put the arugula, basil, Parmigiano, Pecorino, walnuts, lemon zest and garlic in a food processor. Pulse to blend. With the machine running, slowly add in the olive oil. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Kale Pistachio Pesto

Ingredients:

·Salt

·1 large bunch of kale (preferably lacinato kale), stemmed

·¼ cup roasted unsalted pistachios

·1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped

·1 cup flat leaf parsley (leaves and thin stems only)

·½ cup grated Parmesan

·1 tablespoon lemon zest

·½ cup extra virgin olive oil

·Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Have at the ready a large bowl filled with ice and water. Coarsely tear or chop the kale and add to the boiling water.   Cook just until wilted but still vibrant green – just a few minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the kale to the ice water bath.  When the kale has cooled, drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. (If using pasta, you can use this water to also cook the pasta.)

In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until finely ground. Add in the garlic, parsley, Parmesan and lemon zest and pulse until smooth. 

With the machine running, add the olive oil in a stream and process until smooth.  

Season pesto with salt and pepper.

If tossing with pasta, reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water and add to the pasta to thin as necessary.  Adjust seasonings. 

Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Italian. Together, from opposite coasts, they co-author the blog OurItalianTable.com. 

 

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